Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Baby got math

15.02.2006


Cognitive neuroscientists have shown that babies have an abstract numerical sense, as demonstrated by their ability to match the number of voices they hear to the number of faces they expect to see. This numerical perception across senses demonstrates that babies have a truly abstract sense of numerical concepts -- and not just one that is a function of a particular sense -- even before they learn to speak. Previous experiments on this topic have yielded conflicting and equivocal results, said the researchers.

The researchers, Kerry Jordan and Elizabeth Brannon of Duke University, published their findings the week of Feb. 13-17, 2006, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Jordan is a graduate student and Brannon is an assistant professor in Duke’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. The research was sponsored by The National Institute of Mental Health, The National Science Foundation and the John Merck Fund.

In their study, Jordan and Brannon used the same basic experimental design that they had previously used to demonstrate that monkeys show numerical perception across senses http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2005/06/BrannonCurrBio.html. In those experiments, the researchers, collaborating with colleagues at the Max Planck Society, presented the monkeys with the sound of two or three animals making a natural "coo" sound. At the same time they gave the monkeys a choice to look at video images of either two or three monkeys cooing. The researchers found that the monkeys overwhelmingly chose to look at video images that matched the number of monkeys they were hearing.



Similarly, in the study with seven-month-old infants, the Duke researchers presented the babies with the voices of two or three women saying "look." Simultaneously, the babies could choose between looking at video images of two or three women saying the word. As they had found with the monkeys, the researchers found that the babies spent significantly more time looking at the video image that matched the number of women talking. According to Brannon, similar experiments by other researchers had not shown definitive results because of problems in their design.

"First of all, they had used arbitrary stimuli such as a number of objects or sounds like drumbeats, rather than ecologically relevant stimuli. We don’t know for sure this was a problem but it seems likely" said Brannon. "Also, those experiments presented the sounds successively and so the duration of the sound sequence was a potential problem." Finally, said Brannon, previous experiments used the same subjects for multiple trials, which meant that the subjects could have learned to associate such non-numerical factors as the length of a sequence of drumbeats or the intensity of sound with numerical size. In contrast, Jordan and Brannon gave each baby only a single trial, so that the babies had no opportunity to learn anything about the stimuli.

"As a result of our experiments, we conclude that the babies are showing an internal representation of ’two-ness’ or ’three-ness’ that is separate from sensory modalities and, thus, reflects an abstract internal process," said Brannon. "These results support the idea that there is a shared system between preverbal infants and nonverbal animals for representing numbers."

The researchers said that further studies will test both babies and monkeys on their perception of larger numbers, to further explore the details of their numerical abilities. They will also explore whether monkeys can explicitly match the number of a sequence of sounds and a number of objects using a touch screen task in which a monkey has to choose between two visual arrays. Such experiments, they said, will help determine the psychological importance of where monkeys and babies look in their numerical matching paradigm.

Such studies have broad implications for understanding the evolutionary origins of numerical ability and how that ability has developed in humans, they said.

Dennis Meredith | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.duke.edu
http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2005/06/BrannonCurrBio.html

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Salmonella as a tumour medication

HZI researchers developed a bacterial strain that can be used in cancer therapy

Salmonellae are dangerous pathogens that enter the body via contaminated food and can cause severe infections. But these bacteria are also known to target...

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

3rd Symposium on Driving Simulation

23.10.2017 | Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microfluidics probe 'cholesterol' of the oil industry

23.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Gamma rays will reach beyond the limits of light

23.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

The end of pneumonia? New vaccine offers hope

23.10.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>