The neural basis of 'number sense' in young infants

Feb 05, 2008

Behavioral experiments indicate that infants aged 4 ½ months or older possess an early “number sense” that allows them to detect changes in the number of objects. However, the neural basis of this ability was previously unknown.

This week in the online journal PLoS Biology, Véronique Izard, Ghislaine Dehaene-Lambertz, and Stanislas Dehaene provide brain imaging evidence showing that very young infants are sensitive to both the number and identity of objects, and these pieces of information are processed by distinct neural pathways.

The authors recorded the electrical activity evoked by the brain on the surface of the scalp as 3-months-old infants were watching images of objects. The number or identity of objects occasionally changed. The authors found that the infant brain responds to both changes, but in different brain regions, which map onto the same regions that activate in adults.

These results show that very young infants are sensitive to small changes in number, and the brain organization that underlies the perception of object number and identity are established early during development.

Citation: Izard V, Dehaene-Lambertz G, Dehaene S (2008) Distinct cerebral pathways for object identity and number in human infants. PLoS Biol 6(2): e11. doi:10.1371/journal. pbio.0060011 (www.plosbiology.org)

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dogs read our intent too: study

Jan 05, 2012

Dogs pick up not only on the words we say but also on our intent to communicate with them, according to a report published online in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on January 5.

Recommended for you

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Environmental pollutants make worms susceptible to cold

Sep 19, 2014

Some pollutants are more harmful in a cold climate than in a hot, because they affect the temperature sensitivity of certain organisms. Now researchers from Danish universities have demonstrated how this ...

Research helps steer mites from bees

Sep 19, 2014

A Simon Fraser University chemistry professor has found a way to sway mites from their damaging effects on bees that care and feed the all-important queen bee.

User comments : 0