Tape measures. Rulers. Graphs. The gas gauge in your car, and the icon on your favorite digital device showing battery power. The number line and its cousins – notations that map numbers onto space and often represent magnitude – are everywhere. Most adults in industrialized societies are so fluent at using the concept, we hardly think about it. We don’t stop to wonder: Is it “natural”? Is it cultural?
Now, challenging a mainstream scholarly position that the number-line concept is innate, a study suggests it is learned.
Another example of the vastly under appreciated role of learning in how our minds develop. What’s not learned?