The Connectedness Illusion Influences Numerical Perception Throughout Development


Visual illusions of number provide a means of investigating the rules and principles through which approximate number representations are formed. Here, we investigated the developmental trajectory of an important numerical illusion – the connectedness illusion, wherein connecting pairs of items with thin lines reduces their perceived number without altering continuous attributes of the collections. We found that children as young as 5 years of age are affected by the illusion and that the magnitude of the effect increased into adulthood. Moreover, individuals with greater numerical acuity exhibited stronger connectedness illusions after controlling for age. Overall, these results suggest the approximate number system expects to enumerate over bounded wholes and doing so is a signature of its optimal functioning.

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Sam Clarke
University of Southern California


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