Embodied numeracy: explicating the ongoing relationship between finger counting and numeracy in adults

Morrissey, Kyle (2018) Embodied numeracy: explicating the ongoing relationship between finger counting and numeracy in adults. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Finger counting is a very clear example of embodied cognition, as finger-number gestures form an external symbolic representation of numbers, while simultaneously existing as a culturally acquired motor behaviour, and even a type of communicative tool. Finger counting habits typically assist in the acquisition of early number concepts and in the development of arithmetic competence. Recent research now also shows that finger-related processes are longitudinally linked to numerical performance and continue to share overlap in their neural underpinnings well into adulthood. This work suggests that the mental representation of number magnitude is not entirely abstract, and is at least partly rooted in embodied experiences and situational demands, including those posed by culturally-acquired finger counting habits. This dissertation is an investigation of individual differences in the cross-cultural, intra-cultural, and contextual effects of finger counting on mathematical cognition. These investigations each converge on the idea that finger counting habits do influence cognitive processes related to numeracy. The starting hand, or hand typically used to start counting, appears to be a particularly important correlate of numerical performance among Canadians. However, the effects of finger counting processes on adults’ cognition do appear to vary as a function of participants’ typical culturally-acquired finger counting habits, as well as through experimental context. The ultimate goal of this program of research is to examine how individual differences in finger counting habits and early cultural experience may be used in order to construct more detailed models of embodied numeracy, which will improve our understanding of the scope of embodied numeracy.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/13625
Item ID: 13625
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Keywords: magnitude comparison, Chinese, Canadian, finger counting, representational effects, decade break, five break, embodied cognition, cross-culture, within-culture, methodology, SNARC
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > Psychology
Science, Faculty of > Psychology
Date: October 2018
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Numeracy--Psychological aspects; Counting--Psychological aspects; Psychophysiology

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