Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain region cultivates numerical abilities early in development

11.04.2006
Numerical processing similar in children and adults, brain scans reveal

Four-year-olds who are still developing numerical abilities show activity in the same brain region during numerical tasks as do math-adept adults, Duke University researchers Jessica Cantlon, Kevin Pelphrey and colleagues report in the open access journal PLoS Biology. Their comparative brain scan studies explore the earliest glimmerings of numerical processing in pre-school children.

The researchers used the analytical technique of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show that a brain region called the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) is activated when both four-year-olds and adults perceive numerical quantities. They said their findings represent the beginning of a promising new research pathway to explore how the brain wires itself during development to acquire mathematical skills.

“Lots of previous behavioral studies have shown that pre-school children can do basic math tasks before they ever get any formal math training in school,” said Jessica Cantlon, lead author of the study. “They can tell you that a bag of fifteen grapes has more things in it than a bag of five apples, even if they don’t know how to verbally count very well. So, it seems like a basic set of math skills are laid down very early in development. And we were interested in whether these early math skills are related to the sophisticated math skills of adults in the brain,” she said.

The experiment involved showing both children and adults a rapid display of objects, for example, 32 circles over and over. And when the subjects became accustomed to seeing 32 circles, a display containing 64 circles would appear. The fMRI scans would reveal the brain region activated by this change in number. To ensure that the brain region was not reacting to shape or some other aspect of the stimuli, the researchers would also change the objects to another form, for example a triangle.

“This study is the first study to use fMRI to study the neural basis of higher-order cognition in children this young,” said Cantlon. “Our study suggests that the human brain is prepared for basic mathematics at an early age, and that the same neural circuits that perform basic math at an early age continue to process mathematical information over the whole course of development, into adulthood.”

Also, in behavioral studies, the researchers found that the same children could not verbally count to 64, even though they were capable of discriminating such large numbers when presented in a nonsymbolic way. “We were showing them changes in number and changes in shape that allowed us to find specifically the brain regions involved in numerical perception that weren’t connected to the numerical symbols that adults use in math. We clearly found that the IPS responded to number but not to shape in both children and adults.”

Future studies, said the researchers will examine older children, to determine whether there are any detectable age-related differences in numerical processing that might give clues to development of numerical ability. Ultimately, the researchers hope to perform studies in which they follow development of numerical skills in the same children as they grow into adults.

Paul Ocampo | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plosbiology.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth
09.12.2016 | Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

nachricht Plant-based substance boosts eyelash growth
09.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>