A comparative approach to understanding human numerical cognition

Kerry E. Jordan and Elizabeth M. Brannon

in The Origins of Object Knowledge

Published in print March 2009 | ISBN: 9780199216895
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191696039 | DOI:
A comparative approach to understanding human numerical cognition

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Language does not necessarily support all human cognition. Comparative research continues to uncover the links between the cognitive abilities of humans and other animal species that lack language. Representing and manipulating numbers are important for most aspects of human life, and much of this involves abstract symbolic representations. Given this perspective, the authors illustrate how the comparative approach has been used in the domain of numbers to identify the origins of mathematical thinking. The authors in this chapter found out that a system for representing numbers nonverbally is shared by both humans and many nonhuman animal species. A host of behavioral parallels between human and animal numerical cognition such as ratio dependence, semantic congruity, cross-modal matching, and nonverbal arithmetic are revealed in this chapter. The homologous brain structures appear to support numerical representations in humans and macaque monkeys.

Keywords: language; human cognition; numerical cognition; comparative research; numbers; ratio dependence; semantic congruity; cross-modal matching; nonverbal arithmetic; mathematical thinking

Chapter.  11659 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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