So the first thing that jumped out at the researchers when they looked at the results of the experiment was that between individuals, there were big differences in ANS proficiency.
Some subjects were consistently able to identify which group of dots was larger even if there was a small ratio, if the numbers were almost equal, like ten to nine.
Others had problems even when differences were relatively large, like twelve to eight.
Now, maybe you are asking whether some 14-year-olds are just faster, faster in general, not just in math.
It turns out: that’s not so. We know this because the 14-year-olds had previously been tested in a few different areas.
For example, as 8-year-olds, they’d been given a test of rapid color naming.
That’s a test to see how fast they could identify different colors.
But the result didn’t show a relationship with the results of the ANS test.
The ones who were great at rapidly naming colors when they were eight years old weren’t necessarily good at the ANS test when they were fourteen.
And there was no relationship between ANS ability and skills like reading and word knowledge.
But among all the abilities tested over those years, there was one that correlated with the ANS results: math, symbolic math achievement.
And this answered the researchers’ question.
They were able to correlate learned mathematical ability with ANS.