The role of development in the relationship between symbolic and non-symbolic numeric representations

Sarit Ashkenazi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study tested quantity representations in a very large sample of children (n = 1012; ages 2.5 to 7.5), using the GiantLeap application. Three basic numerical tasks were examined 1) symbolic comparison 2) non-symbolic comparison and 3) enumeration. One of the main questions that guided the present study was to understand how symbolic representation develops and whether symbolic representations are built upon approximate, non-symbolic representation. Hence, I tested the relationship between tasks in every age group. The strength of the correlation was similar between tasks (symbolic with non-symbolic comparison or with enumeration), both sets of correlations were positive and significant in most of the age groups. In the two cases, the relationships were very strong prior to elementary school and became smaller in elementary school. In addition, I correlated symbolic comparison to subitizing and counting abilities. Subitizing abilities, but not counting late in development (ages 6 and 7), correlated with symbolic comparison. This result suggests that symbolic representation of Arabic numerals changes during development. Before elementary school, there is considerable resemblance between symbolic and non-symbolic approximate representation. However, during elementary school, two systems exist: one for symbolic representation associated with subitizing, and another system for approximate non-symbolic representations.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5490-5501
Number of pages12
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2023.


  • Development
  • None symbolic quantity representations
  • Subitizing
  • Symbolic quantity representations

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