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Superior numerical abilities following early visual deprivation

Castronovo, Julie; Delvenne, Jean François


Jean François Delvenne


In numerical cognition vision has been assumed to play a predominant role in the elaboration of the numerical representations and skills. However, this view has been recently challenged by the discovery that people with early visual deprivation not only have a semantic numerical representation that shares the same spatial properties with that in sighted people, but also have better numerical estimation skills. Here, we show that blind people's superior numerical abilities can be found in different numerical contexts, whether they are familiar or more general. In particular, we found that blind participants demonstrated better numerical estimation abilities than sighted participants in both an ecologic footstep and an unfamiliar oral verbal production task. Blind participants also tend to show greater working memory skills compared to sighted participants. These findings support the notion that vision is not necessary in the development of numerical cognition and indicate that early visual deprivation may even lead to a general enhancement in numerical estimation abilities. Moreover, they further suggest that blind people's greater numerical skills might be accounted by enhanced high-level cognitive processes, such as working memory.


Castronovo, J., & Delvenne, J. F. (2013). Superior numerical abilities following early visual deprivation. Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior, 49(5), 1435-1440.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 28, 2012
Online Publication Date Jan 17, 2013
Publication Date 2013-05
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Publicly Available Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal Cortex
Print ISSN 0010-9452
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 5
Pages 1435-1440
Keywords Cognition, Blindness, Numerical cognition
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Cortex, 2013, v. 49, issue 5
Contract Date Nov 13, 2014


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