"Effects of Non-Symbolic Arithmetic Training on Symbolic Arithmetic and the Approximate Number System"
Associate Professor Susanne Jaeggi has published with PhD student Jacky Au and research scientist Martin Buschkuehl in Acta Psychologica: "Effects of Non-Symbolic Arithmetic Training on Symbolic Arithmetic and the Approximate Number System."
Au, J., Jaeggi, S., & Buschkuehl, M. (February 2018). Effects of non-symbolic arithmetic training on symbolic arithmetic and the approximate number system. Acta Psychologica 185, 1-12. DOI10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.01.005
The approximate number system (ANS) is an innate cognitive template that allows for the mental representation of approximate magnitude, and has been controversially linked to symbolic number knowledge and math ability. A series of recent studies found that an approximate arithmetic training (AAT) task that draws upon the ANS can improve math skills, which not only supports the existence of this link, but suggests it may be causal. However, no direct transfer effects to any measure of the ANS have yet been reported, calling into question the mechanisms by which math improvements may emerge. The present study investigated the effects of a 7-day AAT and successfully replicated previously reported transfer effects to math. Furthermore, our exploratory analyses provide preliminary evidence that certain ANS-related skills may also be susceptible to training. We conclude that AAT has reproducible effects on math performance, and provide avenues for future studies to further explore underlying mechanisms - specifically, the link between improvements in math and improvements in ANS skills.