Modeling Number Sense Acquisition in A Number Board Game by Coordinating Verbal, Visual, and Grounded Action Components

AbstractPrevious studies including Ramani and Siegler (2008) have shown that playing a number board game improved students performance on several numerical tasks, including numeral identification, magnitude comparison, counting and number line estimation. However, the computational mechanism underlying such number sense acquisition remains unclear. Here, we aim to fill this gap by building a model that simulates play of the game as well as the basic numerical tasks. We hypothesize that cognitive components that are used in the basic tasks are recruited to work together when children play the game, so that the learning induced by playing the game also manifests itself in those tasks. We reproduced the empirical findings with a neural network model implementing our hypothesis. This computational approach demonstrates how a single model that coordinates components of number processing in different modalities (visual, language and spatially-guided action) can explain the number sense acquisition in number board game playing.

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