095 | Mental representation of fractions and its demographic dependencies, a Massive Online Experiment.

Cognition, Behavior, and Memory

Author: Andres Cotton | Email: andrescotton@gmail.com

Andrés Cotton , Verónica C. Ramenzoni , Carolina Londoño , Valeria Edelsztein , Andrés Rieznik

1° Laboratorio de neurociencias – Universidad Torquato DiTella (UTDT)
2° Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET)
3° Centro de Investigación en Psicología y Psicopedagogía – Universidad Católica Argentina (UCA)

This study explored how the performance on different mathematical tasks, among them ‘fractions estimation’, ‘mental rotation’ and ‘complex calculations’ relate to one another in a large sample of individuals (n= 22,221). We designed a Massive Online Experiment with a set of 23 questions extracted from tests used to identify difficulties in mathematical performance, which was distributed via social media. To evaluate the similarities and differences among distinct groups of cognitions, we analyzed the educational attainment, age, and gender dependencies of participants’ performance on each task. Our online data shows reliable patterns that are in line with previous literature, while making a novel contribution suggesting that mental rotation and fractions estimation tasks may rely on common processes with a common developmental pathway. This aligns with the theory of double-representation of fractions, which posits that ratio magnitudes are doubly represented in the brain, either as analog holistic quantities or as exact numerical values. Our data suggests that when the exact calculation of a fraction is unfavorable or impossible, an analog holistic representation of fractions might emerge. These findings demonstrate the utility of the approach we propose, using large samples collected through the internet to evaluate the similarities and differences among distinct groups of cognitions.