Ordinal Instinct: A Neurocognitive Perspective and Methodological Issues

Orly Rubinsten

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The current review focuses on the hypothesized ordinal instinct. It is suggested here that order, much like color, is a basic feature of the environment to which humans appear wired to attend by instinctively extracting approximate ordinal relations. Specifically, I propose a novel outlook that argues for the existence of a neurocognitive system designed to evaluate ordinal relationships. This ordinal instinct is tuned to optimally pick up ordinal information by implicitly and unconsciously capturing sequential regularities in the surrounding world. Importantly, I put forth the claim that human numerical intelligence significantly relies on the ordinal instinct through biological development and experience. The current review aims to (1) discuss the neurocognitive systems involved in ordinal processing, (2) describe how the ordinal instinct develops (both typically and atypically) and becomes accessible to other systems, and (3) speculate whether the ordinal instinct can be the antecedent of higher numerical abilities.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContinuous Issues in Numerical Cognition
Subtitle of host publicationHow Many or How Much
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9780128016374
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Developmental dyscalculia
  • Numerical cognition
  • Order perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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