The Dynamics of Number Representation in College Students with Low Math Achievement


Trina Geye

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Psychology and Special Education

Date of Award

Fall 2015


Magnitude representation is essential to understanding individual differences in math achievement (Henik, Rubinsten, & Ashkenazi, 2011). The tendency for numerical magnitude to interfere with comparisons of physical size is termed the size congruity effect (Henik & Tzelgov, 1982). In the present study, the real-time dynamics of the size congruity effect were analyzed in both low and typically math achieving college students using computer mousetracking. Participants selected the physically larger of two presented numbers, ignoring numerical value, by using a computer mouse to make the selection. A larger area under the curve for incongruent trials indicates competition from the activation of the irrelevant numerical magnitude representation. The low math achieving group demonstrated more complex trajectories than the typical math achieving group, regardless of congruency condition. Interestingly, there were no significant between-group differences for reaction time, suggesting that computer mousetracking is a useful tool for identifying individual differences in numerical cognition beyond performance measures.


Tracy Henley

Subject Categories

Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences