The nature of the association between number line and mathematical performance: An international twin study

Tosto, Maria Grazia; Garon-Carrier, Gabrielle; Gross, Susan; Petrill, Stephen A.; Malykh, Sergey; Malki, Karim; Hart, Sara A.; Thompson, Lee; Karadaghi, Rezhaw L.; Yakovlev, Nikita; Tikhomirova, Tatiana; Opfer, John E.; Mazzocco, Michèle M. M.; Dionne, Ginette; Brendgen, Mara; Vitaro, Frank; Tremblay, Richard E.; Boivin, Michel and Kovas, Yulia. 2019. The nature of the association between number line and mathematical performance: An international twin study. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(4), pp. 787-803. ISSN 0007-0998 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Background: The number line task assesses the ability to estimatenumerical magnitudes. People vary greatly in this abilityand this variability has been previously associated with mathematical skills. However, the sources of individual differences in number line estimation and its association with mathematics are not fully understood.

Aims: This large scale genetically sensitive studyuses a twin design to estimate the magnitude of the effects of genes and environments on: (1) individualvariation in number line estimation and (2) the co-variation of number line estimation with mathematics.

Samples: We used over3,0008-16 years-old twins from US, Canada,UK, and Russia, and a sample of 1,456 8-18 years-old singleton Russian students.

Methods: Twins were assessed on: (1)estimation of numerical magnitudes using a numberline task and (2) two mathematics components: fluency and problemsolving.

Results: Results suggest that environments largelydrive individual differences in numberline estimation.Both genes and environments contribute to different extents to the number line estimationandmathematics correlation, depending on the sample and mathematics component.

Conclusions: Taken together, the results suggest that in more heterogeneous school settings, environments may be more important in driving variation in number line estimation and its associationwith mathematics, whereas in more homogeneous school settings, genetic effects drive the covariation between number line estimationand mathematics. These results are discussed in light of development and educational settings.

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This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: The nature of the association between number line and mathematical performance: An international twin study, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.


culture, individual differences, mathematics ability, number line, twin studies

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26 November 2018Accepted
11 December 2018Published Online
December 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

21 Feb 2019 10:26

Last Modified:

24 Mar 2021 20:41

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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