New! Sign up for our free email newsletter.
Science News
from research organizations

Neural Basis Of 'Number Sense' In Young Infants

February 10, 2008
PLoS Biology
Cerebral imaging reveals that human infants are sensitive to numerical quantity at a very early age and that the basic dorsal/ventral functional organization is already in place in the infant brain.

Behavioral experiments indicate that infants aged 4½ 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.

In new research, 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

Story Source:

Materials provided by PLoS Biology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cite This Page:

PLoS Biology. "Neural Basis Of 'Number Sense' In Young Infants." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2008. <>.
PLoS Biology. (2008, February 10). Neural Basis Of 'Number Sense' In Young Infants. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 29, 2024 from
PLoS Biology. "Neural Basis Of 'Number Sense' In Young Infants." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 29, 2024).

Explore More

from ScienceDaily