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Inborn path to math

Mathematics ability may be related to an evolutionarily ingrained sense for numbers

11:58am, September 7, 2008
Count on evolution to play favorites. When it comes to math achievement, some kids may start out with an inherent advantage.

A portion of 14-year-olds deftly estimate approximate quantities of items without counting, whereas others do so with either moderate or limited success, a new study finds. The ability is evolutionarily ancient and cannot be taught, but tends to get better with age. Large variations in this number sense closely parallel youngsters’ mathematics achievement scores from kindergarten to sixth grade, concludes a team reporting in the Sept. 7 Nature and led by psychologist Justin Halberda of JohnsHopkinsUniversity in Baltimore.

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