Wired reports on the results of a study showing that 6-month-olds who can distinguish between 20 dots and 10 dots are more likely to be good at math in preschool.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, used infants as subjects since they have not yet been exposed to mathematics even informally. Children who first came into the lab when they were 6 months old returned at age 3 to have their abilities assessed a second time.
While the study indicates that innate number sense plays a role in a person's mathematical ability, such factors as experience, education, and motivation also come into play.
Researcher Ariel Starr admits:
If you hand me a baby, I can’t look at how long it looks at some dots and predict its SAT scores in high school.
Read Wired's coverage.