Journal of Experimental Child Psychology vol:99 issue:1 pages:1-17
This experiment aimed to expand previous findings on the development of mental number representation. We tested the hypothesis that children's familiarity with numbers is directly reflected by the shape of their mental number line. This mental number line was expected to be linear as long as numbers lay within the range of numbers children were familiar with. Five- to 9-year-olds (N=78) estimated the positions of numbers on an external number line and additionally completed a counting assessment mirroring their familiarity with numbers. A segmented regression model consisting of two linear segments described number line estimations significantly better than a logarithmic or a simple linear model. Moreover, the change point between two linear segments indicating a change of discriminability between numbers, was significantly correlated with children's familiar number range. Findings are discussed in terms of the accumulator model, assuming a linear mental representation with scalar variability.