Subitizing, magnitude representation, and magnitude retrieval in deaf and hearing adults

Rebecca Bull, G Blatto-Vallee, M Fabich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines basic number processing (subitizing, automaticity, and magnitude representation) as the possible underpinning of mathematical difficulties often evidenced in deaf adults. Hearing and deaf participants completed tasks to assess the automaticity with which magnitude information was activated and retrieved from long-term memory (using a Stroop-like paradigm to assess congruity effects), the representational format of magnitude information (by analysis of distance and Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes effects), and the ability to rapidly enumerate small sets (subitizing). Both groups showed distance effects taken to indicate the use of a visual-spatial analog number line representing approximate quantity. Furthermore, both groups showed similar patterns of performance on the subitizing tasks and showed similar amounts of interference in an analysis of congruity effects. This is taken as evidence against the notion that idiosyncratic differences in basic number processing account for mathematical difficulties experienced by deaf individuals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-302
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • mental representation
  • numerical abilities
  • visual attention
  • number magnitude
  • arabic numerals
  • sign language
  • automaticity
  • information
  • children
  • parity


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