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Publications

The material on this page is posted to ensure timely dissemination of scholarly and technical work. PDFs of articles are not provided to ensure that copyright is not violated. If you have trouble accessing any of the listed papers, please feel free to email Dr. Lourenco directly for help obtaining a copy.

A theory of perceptual number encoding

Lourenco, S. F. & Aulet, L. S. (in press). A theory of perceptual number encoding. Psychological Review.

ABSTRACT: There has long been interest in how the mind represents numerical magnitude, particularly in the absence of symbols. For humans and nonhuman animals, number represents a core dimension of perceptual experience by which objects in the physical world are delineated. The physical world is also well characterized by other dimensions, many of which covary with number. Yet the general consensus is that number is perceived independently of other magnitudes that co-occur with it. Here we present evidence against the independence of number perception. In particular, we use evidence from neuroimaging, computational modeling, visual illusions, and psychophysics to introduce a novel theory of visual number encoding, wherein non-numerical magnitude information such as cumulative surface area is encoded along with number and sustained throughout visual perception. Moreover, we propose that the experience of number per se reflects the read-out of a multidimensional (ie, integral) representation vis-à-vis selective attention, not the independent encoding of number.

Ayzenberg, V., & Lourenco, S. (2022). Perception of an object’s global shape is best described by a model of skeletal structure in human infants. eLife, 11, e74943.

ABSTRACT: Categorization of everyday objects requires that humans form representations of shape that are tolerant to variations among exemplars. Yet, how such invariant shape representations develop remains poorly understood. By comparing human infants (6–12 months; N=82) to computational models of vision using comparable procedures, we shed light on the origins and mechanisms underlying object perception. Following habituation to a never-before-seen object, infants classified other novel objects across variations in their component parts. Comparisons to several computational models of vision, including models of high-level and low-level vision, revealed that infants’ performance was best described by a model of shape based on the skeletal structure. Interestingly, infants outperformed a range of artificial neural network models, selected for their massive object experience and biological plausibility, under the same conditions. Altogether, these findings suggest that robust representations of shape can be formed with little language or object experience by relying on the perceptually invariant skeletal structure.

The development of gender differences in spatial reasoning: A meta-analytic review

Lauer, J. E., Yhang, E., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). The development of gender differences in spatial reasoning: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 145(6), 537.

ABSTRACT: Gender differences in spatial aptitude are well established by adulthood, particularly when measured by tasks that require the mental rotation of objects (Linn & Petersen, 1985; Voyer, Voyer, & Bryden, 1995). Although the male advantage in mental rotation performance represents one of the most robust gender differences in adult cognition, the developmental trajectory of this male advantage remains a topic of considerable debate. To address this debate, we meta-analyzed 303 effect sizes pertaining to gender differences in mental rotation performance among 30,613 children and adolescents. We found significant developmental change in the magnitude of the gender difference: A small male advantage in mental rotation performance first emerged during childhood and then subsequently increased with age, reaching a moderate effect size during adolescence. Procedural factors, including task and stimulus characteristics, also accounted for variability in reported gender differences, even when controlling for the effect of age. These results demonstrate that both age and procedural characteristics moderate the magnitude of the gender difference in mental rotation throughout development.

Lab Publications

2022

Aulet, L. S., & Lourenco, S. F. (in press). No intrinsic number bias: evaluating the role of perceptual discriminability in magnitude categorization. Developmental Science

Lourenco, S. F., & Aulet, L. S. (in press). A theory of perceptual number encoding. Psychological Review.

Liu, Y., & Lourenco, S. F. (2022). Affective Factors Affect Visuospatial Decision-making: A Drift Diffusion Modeling Approach. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.

Aulet, L. S., & Lourenco, S. F. (in press). Perceived number is not abstract. Behavioral and Brain Sciences [commentary].

 

Ayzenberg, V., & Lourenco, S. (2022). Perception of an object’s global shape is best described by a model of skeletal structure in human infants. eLife, 11, e74943.

Ayzenberg, V., Kamps, F. S., Dilks, D. D., & Lourenco, S. F. (2022). Skeletal representations of shape in the human visual cortex. Neuropsychologia, 164, 108092.

2021

Liu, Y., & Lourenco, S. F. (2021). Visual perception of apparent motion abides by minimization principles of geometry. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 47 (9), 1247.

Zelazo, P. D., Lourenco, S. F., Frank, M., Elison, J., Heaton, R., Wellman, H., Slotkin, J., Kharitonova, M., & Reznick, J. S. (2021). Measurement of cognition for the National Children's study. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 9.

 

Aulet, L. S., Yousif, S. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2021). Spatial-numerical associations from a novel paradigm support the mental number line account. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74 (10), 1829-1840. 

Casey, K., & Novick, K., Lourenco, S. F. (2021). Sixty years of gender representation in children’s books: Conditions associated with male versus female overrepresentation. PLOS One, 16(12), e0260566.

 

Aulet, L. S., & Lourenco, S. F. (2021). The relative salience of numerical and non-numerical dimensions shifts over development. A re-analysis of Tomlinson, DeWind, and Brannon (2020). Cognition, 210, 104610.

 

Aulet, L. S., & Lourenco, S. F. (2021). Numerosity and cumulative surface area are perceived holistically as integral dimensions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 150(1), 145.

 

Gruber, J., Mendle, J., Akinola, M., Atlas, L., Ayduk, O., Barch, D., … & Wheatley, T. (2021). The future of women in psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 16 (3), 483-516.

2020

Ayzenberg, V., & Lourenco, S. F. (2020). The relations among navigation, object analysis, and magnitude perception in children: Evidence for a network of Euclidean geometry. Cognitive Development, 58, 100951.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Tasimi, A. (2020). No participant left behind: Conducting science during COVID-19. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 24 (8), 583-584.

2019

Aulet, L. S., Chiu, V. C., Prichard, A., Spivak. M., Lourenco, S. F., & Berns, G. S. (2019). Canine sense of quantity: evidence for numerical ratio-dependent activation in parietotemporal cortex. Biology Letters, 15 (12), 20190666. PMID: 31847744.

 

Jacobson, R., Flores, J., Leong, T., Lourenco, S. F., Jacboson, J., Jacobson, D., Mancl, L., & Chi, D. L. (2019). Evaluating an App-Based Game to Improve Child Toothbrushing Behaviors. Pediatric Dentistry, 41, 299-303.

 

Cheung, C-N., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). Does 1 + 1 = 2nd? The relations between children’s understanding of ordinal position and their arithmetic performance. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 187, 104651. PMID: 31352227.

 

Ayzenberg, V., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). Skeletal structure provides unique perceptual information for object recognition. Scientific Reports, 9, 9359. PMID: 31249321.

 

Cheung, C-N., Sung, Y. J.,  & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). Does training mental rotation transfer to gains in mathematical competence? Assessment of an at-home visuospatial intervention. Psychological Research, 1-18. PMID: 31144028.

 

Ayzenberg, V., Chen, Y., Yousif, S. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). Skeletal representations of shape in human vision: Evidence for a pruned medial axis model. Journal of Vision, 19 (6), 1-21. PMID: 31173631.

 

Lauer, J. E., Yhang, E., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). The development of gender differences in spatial reasoning: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 145(6), 537-565. PMID: 30973235.

 

Holmes, K. J., Alcat, C., & Lourenco, S. F. (2019). Is emotional magnitude spatialized? A further investigation. Cognitive Science, 43(4), e12727. PMID: 31001883.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Aulet, L. S. (2019). Cross-magnitude interactions across development: Longitudinal evidence for a general magnitude system. Developmental Science, 22(1), e12707. PMID: 30088329.

2018

Hunley, S. B., & Lourenco, S. F. (2018). What is peripersonal space? An examination of emerging findings and unresolved empirical issues. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 9(6), e1472. PMID: 29985555.

 

Aulet, L. S., & Lourenco, S. F. (2018). The developing mental number line: Does its directionality relate to 5-to 7-year-old children’s mathematical abilities? Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1142. PMID: 30034355.

 

Ayzenberg, V., Hickey, M., & Lourenco, S. F. (2018). Pupillometry reveals the physiological underpinnings of the aversion to holes. PeerJ, 6, e4185. PMID: 29312818.

Lauer, J. E., Ilksoy, S., & Lourenco, S. F. (2018). Developmental stability in gender-typed preferences between infancy and preschool age. Developmental Psychology, 54, 613. PMID: 29154646.

 

Lourenco, S. F., Cheung, C. N., & Aulet, L. S. (2018). Is visuospatial reasoning related to early mathematical development? A critical review. In A. Henik & W. Fias (Eds), Heterogeneity of Function in Numerical Cognition. Elsevier: Academic Press (pp. 177-210).

2017

 

Lourenco, S. F., Aulet, L. S., Ayzenberg, V., Cheung, C-N., & Holmes, K. J. (2017). Right idea, wrong magnitude system. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 40 [commentary]. PMID: 29342631.

 

Aulet, L. S., Yousif, S. R, & Lourenco, S. F. (2017). Numbers uniquely bias spatial attention: A novel paradigm for understanding spatial-numerical associations. In G. Gunzelmann, A. Howes, T. Tenbrink, & E. J. Davelaar (Eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 75-80). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

 

Vagnoni, E., Undreanidou, V., Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2017). Action ability modulates time-to-collision judgments. Experimental Brain Research. PMID: 28608244.

 

Yousif, S. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2017). Are all geometric cues created equal? Children’s use of distance and length for reorientation. Cognitive Development, 43, 159-169.

 

Hunley, S. B., Marker, A., & Lourenco, S. F. (2017). Individual differences in the flexibility of peripersonal space. Experimental Psychology, 64, 49-55. PMID:28219262.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Bonny, J. W. (2017). Representations of numerical and non-numerical magnitude both contribute to mathematical competence in children. Developmental Science, 20, e12418. PMID: 27146696.

 

Gazes, R. P., Hampton, R. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2017). Transitive inference of social dominance by human infants. Developmental Science, 20, e12367. PMID: 26573240.

 

2016

Lauer, J. E., & Lourenco, S. F. (2016). Spatial processing in infancy predicts both spatial and mathematical aptitude in childhood. Psychological Science, 27, 1291-1298. PMID: 27528464.

 

Holmes, K. J., Ayzenberg, V., & Lourenco, S. F. (2016). Gamble on gaze: Eye position reflects quality of blackjack hands. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23, 1974-1981. PMID: 27173667.

 

Cheung, C-N., & Lourenco, S. F. (2016). The associations between space and order in numerical and non-numerical sequences. Consciousness and Cognition, 45, 124-134. PMID: 27580463.

 

Radu, I., MacIntyre, B., & Lourenco, S. F. (2016). Comparing children’s crosshair and finger interactions in handheld augmented reality: Relationships between usability and child development. In Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Interaction Design and Children. ACM.

 

Lourenco, S. F., Ayzenberg, V., & Lyu, J. (2016). A general magnitude system in human adults: Evidence from a subliminal priming paradigm. Cortex, 81, 93-103. PMID: 27179917.

 

Lourenco, S. F., Bonny, J. W., & Schwartz, B., & (2016). Children and adults use physical size and numerical alliances in third-party judgments of dominance. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:2050. PMID: 26793158.

 

Lourenco, S. F. (2016). How do humans represent numerical and non-numerical magnitudes? Evidence for an integrated system of magnitude representation across development. In Henik, A., ed. Continuous Issues in Numerical Cognition: How Many or How Much. San Diego: Academic Press, pp. 375-403. 

 

Levine, S. C., Foley, A., Lourenco, S. F., Ehrlich, S., & Ratliff, K. (2016). Sex differences in spatial cognition: Advancing the conversation. WIREs Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 7, 127-155. PMID: 26825049.

 

2015

Bonny, J. W., & Lourenco, S. F. (2015). Individual differences in children’s approximations of area correlate with competence in basic geometry. Learning and Individual Differences, 44, 16-24.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Cabrera, J. (2015). The potentiation of geometry by features in human children: Evidence against modularity in the domain of navigation. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 140, 184-196. PMID: 26254274.

 

Vagnoni, E., Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2015). Threat modulates neural responses to looming visual stimuli. European Journal of Neuroscience, 42, 2190-2202. PMID: 26109459.

 

Cheung, C-N., Ayzenberg, V., Diamond, R. F. L., Yousif, S. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2015). Probing the mental number line: A between-task analysis of spatial-numerical associations. In Noelle, D. C., Dale, R., Warlaumont, A. S., Yoshimi, J., Matlock, T., Jennings, C. D., & Maglio, P. P. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 37th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 357-362). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

 

Cheung, C-N., & Lourenco, S. F. (2015). Representations of numerical sequences and the concept of middle in preschoolers. Cognitive Processing, 16, 255-268. PMID: 25976727.

 

Lauer, J. E., Udelson, H. B, Jeon, S. O., & Lourenco, S. F. (2015). An early sex difference in the relation between mental rotation and object preference. Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 558. PMID: 26005426.

 

Longo, M. R., Trippier, S., Vagnoni, E., & Lourenco, S. F. (2015). Right hemisphere control of visuospatial attention in near space. Neuropsychologia, 70, 350-357. PMID: 25446963.

 

Lourenco, S. F. (2015). On the relation between numerical and non-numerical magnitudes: Evidence for a general magnitude system. In D. C. Geary, D. B. Berch, and K. Mann-Koepke (Eds.), Mathematical Cognition and Learning: Evolutionary Origins and Early Development of Basic Number Processing (Volume 1, pp. 145-174). London: Elsevier Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-420133-0.00007-7.

2013

Lourenco, S. F., & Frick, A. (2013). Remembering “where”: Origins and early development of spatial memory. In P. Bauer and R. Fivush (Eds.), The Wiley Handbook on the Development of Children’s Memory. (pp. 367-393). John Wiley & Sons.

 

Holmes, K. J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2013). When numbers get heavy: Is the mental number line exclusively numerical? PLOS One, 8: e58381. PMID: 23484023.   

 

Bonny, J. W., & Lourenco, S. F. (2013). The approximate number system and its relation to early math achievement: Evidence from the preschool years. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 114, 375-388. PMID: 23201156.

 

2012

Lourenco, S. F., Bonny, J. W., Fernandez, E. P., & Rao, S. (2012). Nonsymbolic number and cumulative area representations contribute shared and unique variance to symbolic math competence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 109, 18737-18742. PMID: 23091023.

 

Vagnoni, E., Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2012). Threat modulates perception of looming visual stimuli. Current Biology, 22, R826-R827. PMID: 23058796.

 

Holmes, K. J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2012). Orienting numbers in mental space: Horizontal organization trumps vertical. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65, 1044-1051. PMID: 22630356.

 

Longo, M. R., Lourenco, S. F., & Francisco, A. (2012). Approaching stimuli bias attention in numerical space. Acta Psychologica, 140, 129-132. PMID: 22627156.

 Vasilyeva, M., & Lourenco, S. F. (2012). Development of spatial cognition. WIREs Cognitive Science.

 

2011

Lourenco, S. F., Addy, D., Huttenlocher, J., & Fabian, L. (2011). Early sex differences in weighting geometric cues. Developmental Science, 14, 1365-1378. PMID: 22010896.

 

Holmes, K. J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2011). Common spatial organization of number and emotional expression: A mental magnitude line. Brain and Cognition, 77, 315-323. PMID: 21839568.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2011). Origins and the development of generalized magnitude representation. In S. Dehaene and E. Brannon (Eds.), Space, Time, and Number in the Brain: Searching for the Foundations of Mathematical Thought (pp. 225-244). London: Elsevier Academic Press. 

 

Lourenco, S. F., Longo, M. R., & Pathman, T. (2011). Near space and its relation to claustrophobic fear. Cognition, 119, 448-453. PMID: 21396630.

Holmes, K. J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2011). Horizontal trumps vertical in the spatial organization of numerical magnitude. In L. Carlson, C. Hölscher, & T. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2276-2281). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

 

2010

Vasilyeva, M., & Lourenco, S. F. (2010). Spatial development. In R. Lerner (Ed.), The Handbook of Life-Span Development, W. F. Overton (Ed.), Volume 1: Methods, biology, neuroscience, and cognitive development. (pp. 720-753). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2010). General magnitude representation in human infants. Psychological Science, 21, 873-881. PMID: 20431048.

 

Longo, M. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2010). Bisecting the mental number line in near and far space. Brain and Cognition, 72, 362-367. PMID: 19951825.

 

Huttenlocher, J., Lourenco, S. F., & Vasilyeva, M. (2010). Perspectives on spatial development. In K. S. Mix, L. B. Smith, & M. Gasser (Eds.), The Spatial Foundations of Language and Cognition (pp. 87-101). New York: Oxford University Press.

 

2009

Lourenco, S. F., Addy, D., & Huttenlocher, J. (2009). Location representation in enclosed spaces: What types of information afford young children an advantage? Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 104, 313-325. PMID: 19560782.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2009). The plasticity of near space: Evidence for contraction. Cognition, 112, 451-456. PMID: 19539277.

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Longo, M. R. (2009). Multiple spatial representations of number: Evidence for co-existing compressive and linear scales. Experimental Brain Research, 193, 151-156. PMID: 19159921.

 

GHolmes, K. J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2009). Spatial organization of magnitude in the representation of number and emotion. In N. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2402-2407). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.

2008

Lourenco, S. F., & Levine, S. C. (2008). Early numerical representations and the natural numbers: Is there really a complete disconnect? Behavioral and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 660. [commentary]

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Huttenlocher, J. (2008). The representation of geometric cues in infancy. Infancy, 13, 103-127.

 

2007

Huttenlocher, J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2007). Coding location in enclosed spaces: Is geometry the principle? Developmental Science, 10, 741-746. PMID: 17973790.

 

Huttenlocher, J., Hedges, L., GLourenco, S. F., Crawford, L. E., & Corrigan, B. (2007). Estimating stimuli in contrasting categories: Truncation due to boundaries. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 136, 502-519. PMID: 17696696. 

 

Lourenco, S. F., & Huttenlocher, J. (2007). Using geometry to specify location: Implications for spatial coding in children and nonhuman animals. Psychological Research, 71, 252-264. PMID: 16983583.

 

Huttenlocher, J., & Lourenco, S. F. (2007). Using spatial categories to reason about location. In J. Plumert & J. Spencer (Eds.), The Emerging Spatial Mind (pp. 3-24). New York: Oxford University Press.

 

Longo, M. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2007). Space perception and body morphology: Extent of near space scales with arm length. Experimental Brain Research, 177, 285-290. PMID: 17256162.

 

Longo, M. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2007). Spatial attention and the mental number line: Evidence for characteristic biases and compression. Neuropsychologia, 45, 1400-1407. PMID: 17157335.

 

2006

Lourenco, S. F., & Huttenlocher, J. (2006). How do young children determine location? Evidence from disorientation tasks. Cognition, 100, 511-529. PMID: 16185680.

 

Longo, M. R., & Lourenco, S. F. (2006). On the nature of near space: Effects of tool use and the transition to far space. Neuropsychologia, 44, 977-981. PMID: 16243365.

 

2005

Levine, S. C., Vasilyeva, M., Lourenco, S. F., Newcombe, N., & Huttenlocher, J. (2005). Socioeconomic status modifies the sex difference in spatial skill. Psychological Science, 16, 841-845. PMID: 16262766.

 

Lourenco, S. F., Huttenlocher, J., & Vasilyeva, M. (2005). Toddlers’ representations of space: The role of viewer perspective. Psychological Science, 16, 255-259. PMID: 15828970.

2003

 

Zelazo, P. D., & Lourenco, S. F. (2003). Imitation and the dialectic of representation. Developmental Review, 23, 55-78.