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Numbers in Mind

Babies' ballyhooed counting skills add up to controversy

11:23am, June 17, 2002

In 1992, Karen Wynn's numbers came in big. The numbers in question were tiny in an absolute sense, but they counted for a lot among investigators of child development. The reason: Wynn claimed to have exposed intuitive arithmetic skills of 5-month-old babies. The young psychologist, having received her doctorate in psychology just 2 years earlier, reported that infants show a facility for adding and

subtracting small numbers of items, on the order of 1 + 1 = 2 and 2 – 1 = 1. Her results appeared in a major scientific journal, attracted worldwide media coverage (SN: 8/29/92, p. 132), and inspired a wave of research into what she regards as infants' seemingly innate "number sense."

Now at Yale University, Wyn

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