Counting on your fingers may feel natural but it is not innate or universal; methods are culturally transmitted (like number lines) and may have an effect on cognition. A Guardian blog post asks you to “without thinking about it too much, use your hands to count to 10″. How did you do it?
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Some cognitive scientists have done an experiment on some people in Papua New Guinea to test the hypothesis that the number line is based on an in-built intuition that all humans share. They concluded that it isn’t, and that you can use cardinal numbers without placing them mentally on a line.