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Did you know? You may actually be born with the ability to do division.

Scholars at the University of Pennsylvania recently found that children instinctively have this ability even before they formally learn arithmetic.

In a test of 89 children, the children chose the correct answer in 73%-77% of cases, and the adults were correct in over 90% of cases.

The study is currently published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

# All Approximate Number System (ANS)

Before introducing the experiment, it is important to clarify that children are born with the ability to divide, not in the formulaic way we usually see, but in the sense of having the ability to do so.

This experiment is based on the theoretical foundation of the approximate number system (ANS).

The innate ability of humans or animals to estimate quantities is based on this cognitive system.

For example, suppose you are a bird that wants to eat fruit, a large tree with 100 fruits and a large tree with 200 fruits, you do not go from tree to tree to count how many fruits on each tree, but estimate which tree has more fruits, go to which tree to feed.

Previous research has shown that the ANS plays a crucial role in influencing math skills, such as exact numbers and simple arithmetic.

The same theory was applied in this experiment.

Instead of showing the children a bunch of formulas directly, the researchers simulated a bee harvesting honey.

The experiment assumes that a bee is collecting honey and when it lands on a flower, some of the honey will be taken by it and some will fall on the petals.

The researchers assumed that the honey was evenly distributed each time the bees landed on the flowers.

As shown below, the orange dots represent honey, and if there are 48 "honeys" falling on the flower, there are 6 on each petal.

At this point, another petal (right side) will appear in the experiment, which also has a certain amount of honey on it.

The children were asked to determine which side had more honey on the two petals.

After a few training sessions like this, the kids were already familiar with the rules.

Now comes the point of the experiment.

The researchers made it impossible for the children to visually see how much honey fell on the petals of the flowers after the bees had collected it by obscuring it. Then they were asked to determine which petal had more honey on it compared to the petal on the right.

In fact, by this point, the children need to make a division estimate in their minds if they want to make the correct judgment.

After conducting this non-symbolic (no numbers shown) experiment, the researchers conducted another round of testing after replacing the honey in the graph with specific numbers.

At this point, three numbers must be noted in the child's mind, the amount of honey, the number of petals, and the amount of honey on each petal.

In other words, that is, the divisor, the divisor, and the quotient - at this point, division has already begun to take shape.

Finally, the researchers also got 87 college students to conduct the test as a control.

The results showed that children were able to make the correct choice in 73%-77% of the cases in the non-symbolic (no numbers shown) test.

On the symbols (showing numbers) test, children were able to select the correct answer in 67%-72% of the cases.

The adult group had a higher accuracy rate overall, with a correct rate of over 88%. The situation was different from the children's group, however, in that the adults had better correct rates on the symbolic tests than on the non-symbolic tests.

# One More Thing

ANS is considered to perform all non-sign representations larger than 4.

Its accuracy increases as the person grows and develops, eventually reaching an accuracy of about 15%. This means that an adult can distinguish between a number of 100 and 115 clusters without performing calculations.

Brain science research has shown that the ANS system is located roughly in the intraparietal sulcus bilaterally in the brain area, and this research is now widely used in teaching children.

There is also research that proves that the accuracy of the ANS in childhood predicts its subsequent math performance.

Link to the paper.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnhum.2022.752190/full

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