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Elizabeth S. Spelke [70]Elizabeth Spelke [35]
  1. Camilla K. Gilmore, Shannon E. McCarthy & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Symbolic Arithmetic Knowledge Without Instruction.
    Symbolic arithmetic is fundamental to science, technology and economics, but its acquisition by children typically requires years of effort, instruction and drill1,2. When adults perform mental arithmetic, they activate nonsymbolic, approximate number representations3,4, and their performance suffers if this nonsymbolic system is impaired5. Nonsymbolic number representations also allow adults, children, and even infants to add or subtract pairs of dot arrays and to compare the resulting sum or difference to a third array, provided that only approximate accuracy is required6–10. Here (...)
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  2. Daniel C. Hyde & Elizabeth S. Spelke, All Numbers Are Not Equal: An Electrophysiological Investigation of Small and Large Number Representations.
    & Behavioral and brain imaging research indicates that human infants, humans adults, and many nonhuman animals represent large nonsymbolic numbers approximately, discriminating between sets with a ratio limit on accuracy. Some behavioral evidence, especially with human infants, suggests that these representations differ from representations of small numbers of objects. To investigate neural signatures of this distinction, event-related potentials were recorded as adult humans passively viewed the sequential presentation of dot arrays in an adaptation paradigm. In two studies, subjects viewed successive (...)
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  3. Daniel C. Hyde & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Paper.
    Behavioral research suggests that two cognitive systems are at the foundations of numerical thinking: one for representing 1–3 objects in parallel and one for representing and comparing large, approximate numerical magnitudes. We tested for dissociable neural signatures of these systems in preverbal infants by recording event-related potentials (ERPs) as 6–7.5-month-old infants (n = 32) viewed dot arrays containing either small (1–3) or large (8–32) sets of objects in a number alternation paradigm. If small and large numbers are represented by the (...)
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  4. Rachel Keen & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Paper.
    Previous research has shown that young children have difficulty searching for a hidden object whose location depends on the position of a partly visible physical barrier. Across four experiments, we tested whether children’s search errors are affected by two variables that influence adults’ object-directed attention: object boundaries and proximity relations. Toddlers searched for a car that rolled down a ramp behind an occluding panel and stopped on contact with a barrier. The car’s location on each trial depended on the placement (...)
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  5. Rachel Keen & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Young Children's Representations of Spatial and Functional Relations Between Objects.
    Three experiments investigated changes from 15 to 30 months of age in children’s (N = 114) mastery of relations between an object and an aperture, supporting surface, or form. When choosing between objects to insert into an aperture, older children selected objects of an appropriate size and shape, but younger children showed little selectivity. Further experiments probed the sources of younger children’s difficulty by comparing children’s performance placing a target object in a hole, on a 2-dimensional form, or atop another (...)
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  6. In-Kyeong Kim & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Paper.
    Experiments using a preferential looking method, a perceptual judgment method, and a predictive judgment method investigated the development, from 7 months to 6 years of age, of sensitivity to the effects of gravity and inertia on inanimate object motion. The experiments focused on a situation in which a ball rolled off a flat surface and either continued in linear motion (contrary to gravity), turned abruptly and moved downward (contrary to inertia), or underwent natural, parabolic motion. When children viewed the three (...)
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  7. Sang Ah Lee, Anna Shusterman & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Evidence for Two Systems.
    ��Disoriented 4-year-old children use a distinctive container to locate a hidden object, but do they reorient by this information? We addressed this question by testing children’s search for objects in a circular room containing one distinctive and two identical containers. Children’s search patterns provided evidence that the distinctive container served as a direct cue to a hidden object’s location, but not as a directional signal guiding reorientation. The findings suggest that disoriented children’s search behavior depends on two distinct processes: a (...)
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  8. Sang Ah Lee & Elizabeth S. Spelke, A Modular Geometric Mechanism for Reorientation in Children.
    Although disoriented young children reorient themselves in relation to the shape of the surrounding surface layout, cognitive accounts of this ability vary. The present paper tests three theories of reorientation: a snapshot theory based on visual image-matching computations, an adaptive combination theory proposing that diverse environmental cues to orientation are weighted according to their experienced reliability, and a modular theory centering on encapsulated computations of the shape of the extended surface layout. Seven experiments test these theories by manipulating four properties (...)
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  9. Sang Ah Lee & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Young Children Reorient by Computing Layout Geometry, Not by Matching Images of the Environment.
    Disoriented animals from ants to humans reorient in accord with the shape of the surrounding surface layout: a behavioral pattern long taken as evidence for sensitivity to layout geometry. Recent computational models suggest, however, that the reorientation process may not depend on geometrical analyses but instead on the matching of brightness contours in 2D images of the environment. Here we test this suggestion by investigating young children's reorientation in enclosed environments. Children reoriented by extremely subtle geometric properties of the 3D (...)
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  10. Jennifer S. Lipton & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Preschool Children's Mapping of Number Words to Nonsymbolic Numerosities.
    Five-year-old children categorized as skilled versus unskilled counters were given verbal estimation and number word comprehension tasks with numerosities 20 – 120. Skilled counters showed a linear relation between number words and nonsymbolic numerosities. Unskilled counters showed the same linear relation for smaller numbers to which they could count, but not for larger number words. Further tasks indicated that unskilled counters failed even to correctly order large number words differing by a 2 : 1 ratio, whereas they performed well on (...)
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  11. Kristina R. Olson & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Judgments of the Lucky Across Development and Culture.
    For millennia, human beings have believed that it is morally wrong to judge others by the fortuitous or unfortunate events that befall them or by the actions of another person. Rather, an individual’s own intended, deliberate actions should be the basis of his or her evaluation, reward, and punishment. In a series of studies, the authors investigated whether such rules guide the judgments of children. The first 3 studies demonstrated that children view lucky others as more likely than unlucky others (...)
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  12. Elizabeth S. Spelke, aCCENT TrumpS raCE iN GuiDiNG ChilDrEN'S SOCial prEfErENCES.
    A series of experiments investigated the effect of speakers’ language, accent, and race on children’s social preferences. When presented with photographs and voice recordings of novel children, 5-year-old children chose to be friends with native speakers of their native language rather than foreign-language or foreign-accented speakers. These preferences were not exclusively due to the intelligibility of the speech, as children found the accented speech to be comprehensible, and did not make social distinctions between foreign-accented and foreign-language speakers. Finally, children chose (...)
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  13. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Core Knowledge.
    Human cognition is founded, in part, on four systems for representing objects, actions, number, and space. It may be based, as well, on a fifth system for representing social partners. Each system has deep roots in human phylogeny and ontogeny, and it guides and shapes the mental lives of adults. Converging research on human infants, non-human primates, children and adults in diverse cultures can aid both understanding of these systems and attempts to overcome their limits.
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  14. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Infants' Rapid Learning About Self-Propelled Objects.
    Six experiments investigated 7-month-old infants’ capacity to learn about the self-propelled motion of an object. After observing 1 wind-up toy animal move on its own and a second wind-up toy animal move passively by an experimenter’s hand, infants looked reliably longer at the former object during a subsequent stationary test, providing evidence that infants learned and remembered the mapping of objects and their motions. In further experiments, infants learned the mapping for different animals and retained it over a 15-min delay, (...)
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  15. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Linda Hermer-Vazquez.
    Under many circumstances, children and adult rats reorient themselves through a process which operates only on information about the shape of the environment (e.g., Cheng, 1986; Hermer & Spelke, 1996). In contrast, human adults relocate themselves more flexibly, by conjoining geometric and nongeometric information to specify their position (Hermer & Spelke, 1994). The present experiments used a dual-task method to investigate the processes that underlie the flexible conjunction of information. In Experiment 1, subjects reoriented themselves flexibly when they performed no (...)
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  16. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Paper.
    To whom do children look when deciding on their own preferences? To address this question, 3-year-old children were asked to choose between objects or activities that were endorsed by unfamiliar people who differed in gender, race (White, Black), or age (child, adult). In Experiment 1, children demonstrated robust preferences for objects and activities endorsed by children of their own gender, but less consistent preferences for objects and activities endorsed by children of their own race. In Experiment 2, children (...)
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  17. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Predictive Reaching for Occluded Objects by 6-Month-Old Infants.
    Infants were presented with an object that moved into reaching space on a path that was either continuously visible or interrupted by an occluder. Infants’ reaching was reduced sharply when an occluder was present, even though the occluder itself was out of reach and did not serve as a barrier to direct reaching for the object. We account for these findings and for the apparently contrasting findings of experiments using preferential looking methods to assess infants’ object representations, by proposing that (...)
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  18. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Sex Differences in Intrinsic Aptitude for Mathematics and Science?
    This article considers 3 claims that cognitive sex differ- ences account for the differential representation of men and women in high-level careers in mathematics and sci- ence: (a) males are more focused on objects from the beginning of life and therefore are predisposed to better learning about mechanical systems; (b) males have a pro- file of spatial and numerical abilities producing greater aptitude for mathematics; and (c) males are more variable in their cognitive abilities and therefore predominate at the upper (...)
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  19. Elizabeth S. Spelke, The Native Language of Social Cognition.
    What leads humans to divide the social world into groups, preferring their own group and disfavoring others? Experiments with infants and young children suggest these tendencies are based on predispo- sitions that emerge early in life and depend, in part, on natural language. Young infants prefer to look at a person who previously spoke their native language. Older infants preferentially accept toys from native-language speakers, and preschool children preferentially select native-language speakers as friends. Variations in accent are sufficient to evoke (...)
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  20. Elizabeth S. Spelke & Emmanuel Dupoux, Native Over Foreign Speakers.
    Infants learn from adults readily and cooperate with them spontaneously, but how do they select culturally appropriate teachers and collaborators? Building on evidence that children demonstrate social preferences for speakers of their native language, Experiment 1 presented 10- month-old infants with videotaped events in which a native and a foreign speaker introduced two different toys. When given a chance to choose between real exemplars of the objects, infants preferentially chose the toy modeled by the native speaker. In Experiment 2, 2.5-year-old (...)
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  21. Elizabeth S. Spelke & Marc D. Hauser, Visual Representation in the Wild: How Rhesus Monkeys.
    & Visual object representation was studied in free-ranging rhesus monkeys. To facilitate comparison with humans, and to provide a new tool for neurophysiologists, we used a looking time procedure originally developed for studies of human infants. Monkeys’ looking times were measured to displays with one or two distinct objects, separated or together, stationary or moving. Results indicate that rhesus monkeys..
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  22. Elizabeth S. Spelke & Susan J. Hespos, Conceptual Precursors to Language.
    Because human languages vary in sound and meaning, children must learn which distinctions their language uses. For speech perception, this learning is selective: initially infants are sensitive to most acoustic distinctions used in any language1–3, and this sensitivity reflects basic properties of the auditory system rather than mechanisms specific to language4–7; however, infants’ sensitivity to non-native sound distinctions declines over the course of the first year8. Here we ask whether a similar process governs learning of word meanings. We investigated the (...)
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  23. Elizabeth Spelke, Philip Zelazo & Jerome Kagan, Father Interaction and Separatian Protest'.
    Thirty-six 1-year-old middle-class children with fathers who spent differential time with them at home were observed in two experimental contexts separated by 2 weeks. In the first, each infant was shown six to eight repetitions of three different nonsocial events followed by a change in..
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  24. In Kyeong Kim & Elizabeth S. Spelke, Infants' Sensitivity to Effects of Gravity on Visible Object Motion.
    A preference method probed infants` perception of object motion on an inclined plane. Infants viewed videotaped events in which a ball rolled downward (or upward) while speeding up (or slowing down). Then infants were tested with events in which the ball moved in the opposite direction with appropriate or inappropriate acceleration. Infants aged 7 months, but not 5 months, looked longer at the test event with inappropriate acceleration, suggesting emerging sensitivity to gravity. A further study tested whether infants appreciate that (...)
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  25. Elizabeth Spelke, Core Systems in Human Cognition.
    Research on human infants, adult nonhuman primates, and children and adults in diverse cultures provides converging evidence for four systems at the foundations of human knowledge. These systems are domain specific and serve to represent both entities in the perceptible world (inanimate manipulable objects and animate agents) and entities that are more abstract (numbers and geometrical forms). Human cognition may be based, as well, on a fifth system for representing social partners and for categorizing the social world into groups. Research (...)
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  26. Elizabeth Spelke, Infants' Discrimination of Number Vs. Continuous Extent.
    Seven studies explored the empirical basis for claims that infants represent cardinal values of small sets of objects. Many studies investigating numerical ability did not properly control for continuous stimulus properties such as surface area, volume, contour length, or dimensions that correlate with these properties. Experiment 1 extended the standard habituation/dishabituation paradigm to a 1 vs 2 comparison with three-dimensional objects and confirmed that when number and total front surface area are confounded, infants discriminate the arrays. Experiment 2 revealed that (...)
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  27. Elizabeth Spelke, Infants' Haptic Perception of Object Unity in Rotating Displays.
    Four-month-old infants were allowed to manipulate, without vision, two rings attached to a bar that permitted each ring to undergo rotary motion against a fixed surface. In different conditions, the relative motions of the rings were rigid, independent, or opposite, and they circled either the same fixed point outside the zone of manipulation or spatially separated points. Infants’ perception of the ring assemblies were affected by the nature of the rotary motion in two ways. First, infants perceived a unitary object (...)
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  28. Elizabeth Spelke, Infant Reaction to Parental Separations When Left with Familiar and Unfamiliar Adults.
    The results of two experiments examining infants at 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, and 21 months 0f age and varying levels of father interaction are summarized to show that separation protest is more a function of a strange person remaining in an unfamiliar laboratory situation with the infant than the temporary loss of a specific parent. The use of protest as an index of infant-parent attachment seems undesirable.
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  29. Elizabeth Spelke, Preschool Children's Mapping of Number Words to Nonsymbolic Numerosities.
    Five-year-old children categorized as skilled versus unskilled counters were given verbal estimation and number word comprehension tasks with numerosities 20 – 120. Skilled counters showed a linear relation between number words and nonsymbolic numerosities. Unskilled counters showed the same linear relation for smaller numbers to which they could count, but not for larger number words. Further tasks indicated that unskilled counters failed even to correctly order large number words differing by a 2 : 1 ratio, whereas they performed well on (...)
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  30. Elizabeth S. Spelke, Perceiving Bimodally Specified Events in Infancy.
    Four-month-old infants can perceive bimodally speciiied events. They respond to relationships between the optic and acoustic stimulation that carries information about an object. Infants can do this by detecting the temporal synchrony of an object’s sounds and its optically specified impacts. They are sensitive both to the common tempo and to the simultaneity of such sounds and visible impacts. These findings support the view that intermodal perception depends at least in part on the detection of invariant relationships in patterns of (...)
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  31. Elizabeth S. Spelke & William James Hall, Number-Space Mapping in Human Infants.
    Mature representations of number are built on a core system of numerical representation that connects to spatial representations in the form of a ‘mental number line’. The core number system is functional in early infancy, but little is known about the origins of the mapping of numbers onto space. Here we show that preverbal infants transfer the discrimination of an ordered series of numerosities to the discrimination of an ordered series of line lengths. Moreover, infants construct relationships between individual numbers (...)
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  32. Hilary Barth, Lacey Beckmann & Elizabeth S. Spelke (forthcoming). In Prep.) Nonsymbolic Approximate Arithmetic in Children: Abstract Addition Prior to Instruction.(Manuscript Under Review. Cognition.
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  33. Daniel C. Hyde, Saeeda Khanum & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2014). Brief Non-Symbolic, Approximate Number Practice Enhances Subsequent Exact Symbolic Arithmetic in Children. Cognition 131 (1):92-107.
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  34. Amy E. Skerry & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2014). Preverbal Infants Identify Emotional Reactions That Are Incongruent with Goal Outcomes. Cognition 130 (2):204-216.
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  35. Konika Banerjee, Omar S. Haque & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2013). Melting Lizards and Crying Mailboxes: Children's Preferential Recall of Minimally Counterintuitive Concepts. Cognitive Science 37 (7):1251-1289.
    Previous research with adults suggests that a catalog of minimally counterintuitive concepts, which underlies supernatural or religious concepts, may constitute a cognitive optimum and is therefore cognitively encoded and culturally transmitted more successfully than either entirely intuitive concepts or maximally counterintuitive concepts. This study examines whether children's concept recall similarly is sensitive to the degree of conceptual counterintuitiveness (operationalized as a concept's number of ontological domain violations) for items presented in the context of a fictional narrative. Seven- to nine-year-old children (...)
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  36. Koleen McCrink, Elizabeth Spelke, Stanislas Dehaene & Pierre Pica (2013). Non-Symbolic Halving in an Amazonian Indigene Group. Developmental Science 16 (3):451-462.
    Much research supports the existence of an Approximate Number System (ANS) that is recruited by infants, children, adults, and non-human animals to generate coarse, non-symbolic representations of number. This system supports simple arithmetic operations such as addition, subtraction, and ordering of amounts. The current study tests whether an intuition of a more complex calculation, division, exists in an indigene group in the Amazon, the Mundurucu, whose language includes no words for large numbers. Mundurucu children were presented with a video event (...)
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  37. Manuela Piazza, Pierre Pica, Véronique Izard, Elizabeth Spelke & Stanislas Dehaene (2013). Education Enhances the Acuity of the Nonverbal Approximate Number System. Psychological Science 24 (4):p.
    All humans share a universal, evolutionarily ancient approximate number system (ANS) that estimates and combines the numbers of objects in sets with ratio-limited precision. Interindividual variability in the acuity of the ANS correlates with mathematical achievement, but the causes of this correlation have never been established. We acquired psychophysical measures of ANS acuity in child and adult members of an indigene group in the Amazon, the Mundurucú, who have a very restricted numerical lexicon and highly variable access to mathematics education. (...)
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  38. Sang Ah Lee, Valeria A. Sovrano & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2012). Navigation as a Source of Geometric Knowledge: Young Children's Use of Length, Angle, Distance, and Direction in a Reorientation Task. Cognition 123 (1):144-161.
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  39. Elizabeth Bonawitz, Patrick Shafto, Hyowon Gweon, Noah D. Goodman, Elizabeth Spelke & Laura Schulz (2011). The Double-Edged Sword of Pedagogy: Instruction Limits Spontaneous Exploration and Discovery. Cognition 120 (3):322-330.
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  40. Véronique Izard, Pierre Pica, Danièle Hinchey, Stanislas Dehane & Elizabeth Spelke (2011). Geometry as a Universal Mental Construction. In Stanislas Dehaene & Elizabeth Brannon (eds.), Space, Time and Number in the Brain. Oxford University Press.
  41. Katherine D. Kinzler & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2011). Do Infants Show Social Preferences for People Differing in Race? Cognition 119 (1):1-9.
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  42. Pierre Pica, Véronique Izard, Elizabeth Spelke & Stanislas Dehaene (2011). Flexible Intuitions of Euclidean Geometry in an Amazonian Indigene Group. Pnas 23.
    Kant argued that Euclidean geometry is synthesized on the basis of an a priori intuition of space. This proposal inspired much behavioral research probing whether spatial navigation in humans and animals conforms to the predictions of Euclidean geometry. However, Euclidean geometry also includes concepts that transcend the perceptible, such as objects that are infinitely small or infinitely large, or statements of necessity and impossibility. We tested the hypothesis that certain aspects of nonperceptible Euclidian geometry map onto intuitions of space that (...)
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  43. Anna Shusterman, Sang Ah Lee & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2011). Cognitive Effects of Language on Human Navigation. Cognition 120 (2):186-201.
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  44. Elizabeth S. Spelke (2011). Natural Number and Natural Geometry. In Stanislas Dehaene & Elizabeth Brannon (eds.), Space, Time and Number in the Brain. Oxford University Press. 287--317.
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  45. Elizabeth S. Spelke (2011). Quinian Bootstrapping or Fodorian Combination? Core and Constructed Knowledge of Number. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (3):149-150.
    According to Carey (2009), humans construct new concepts by abstracting structural relations among sets of partly unspecified symbols, and then analogically mapping those symbol structures onto the target domain. Using the development of integer concepts as an example, I give reasons to doubt this account and to consider other ways in which language and symbol learning foster conceptual development.
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  46. Camilla K. Gilmore, Shannon E. McCarthy & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2010). Non-Symbolic Arithmetic Abilities and Achievement in the First Year of Formal Schooling in Mathematics. Cognition 115 (3):394.
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  47. Elizabeth Spelke (2010). Gender, Math & Science. Cognitive Science 31:05.
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  48. Elizabeth S. Spelke (2010). Core Multiplication in Childhood. Cognition 116 (2):204-216.
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  49. Elizabeth Spelke, Sang Ah Lee & Véronique Izard (2010). Beyond Core Knowledge: Natural Geometry. Cognitive Science 34 (5):863-884.
    For many centuries, philosophers and scientists have pondered the origins and nature of human intuitions about the properties of points, lines, and figures on the Euclidean plane, with most hypothesizing that a system of Euclidean concepts either is innate or is assembled by general learning processes. Recent research from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive anthropology, animal cognition, and cognitive neuroscience suggests a different view. Knowledge of geometry may be founded on at least two distinct, evolutionarily ancient, core cognitive systems for (...)
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  50. Maria-Dolores de Hevia & Elizabeth S. Spelke (2009). Spontaneous Mapping of Number and Space in Adults and Young Children. Cognition 110 (2):198-207.
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