Neurophysiological signatures of approximate number system acuity in preschoolers

Michal Pinhas, David J. Paulsen, Marty G. Woldorff, Elizabeth M. Brannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: A hallmark of the approximate number system (ANS) is ratio dependence. Previous work identified specific event-related potentials (ERPs) that are modulated by numerical ratio throughout the lifespan. In adults, ERP ratio dependence was correlated with the precision of the numerical judgments with individuals who make more precise judgments showing larger ratio-dependent ERP effects. The current study evaluated if this relationship generalizes to preschoolers. Method: ERPs were recorded from 56 4.5 to 5.5-year-olds while they compared the numerosity of two sequentially presented dot arrays. Nonverbal numerical precision, often called ANS acuity, was assessed using a similar behavioral task. Results: Only children with high ANS acuity exhibited a P2p ratio-dependent effect onsetting ∼250 ms after the presentation of the comparison dot array. Furthermore, P2p amplitude positively correlated with ANS acuity across tasks. Conclusion: Results demonstrate developmental continuity between preschool years and adulthood in the neural basis of the ANS.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100197
JournalTrends in Neuroscience and Education
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Approximate number system
  • Approximate number system acuity
  • Event-related potential
  • Numerical-ratio effect
  • Weber fraction


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