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In this study adults performed numerical and physical size judgments on a symbolic (Arabic numerals) and non-symbolic (groups of dots) size congruity task. The outcomes would reveal whether a size congruity effect (SCE) can be obtained irrespective of notation. Subsequently, 5-year-old children performed a physical size judgment on both tasks. The outcomes will give a better insight in the ability of 5-year-olds to automatically process symbolic and non-symbolic numerosities. Adult performance on the symbolic and non-symbolic size congruity tasks revealed a SCE for numerical and physical size judgments, indicating that the non-symbolic size congruity task is a valid indicator for automatic processing of non-symbolic numerosities. Physical size judgments on both tasks by children revealed a SCE only for non-symbolic notation, indicating that the lack of a symbolic SCE is not related to the mathematical or cognitive abilities required for the task but instead to an immature association between the number symbol and its meaning.

Original publication




Journal article


Cogn Process

Publication Date





133 - 142


Aging, Analysis of Variance, Child, Preschool, Concept Formation, Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Male, Mathematics, Neuropsychological Tests, Pattern Recognition, Visual, Photic Stimulation, Reaction Time, Young Adult