Monday, February 13, 2006

Birds do it, Bees do it, even Babies do math

I'm copying the whole article from LiveScience here because it's short and I really want you all to read it. The author of the study, Elizabeth Brannon at Duke University, is my hero even if she thinks arithmetic is math. One of my fantasies is to go to Duke and study under her.


Like Monkeys, Babies Know Math
By Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience Managing Editor
posted: 13 February 200605:00 pm ET

After long suspecting we’re born with some math sense, researchers have shown infants indeed have some ability to count long before they can demonstrate it to Mom and Dad.

It turns out they’re not unlike grown monkeys.

In the study, seven-month-old babies were presented with the voices of two or three women saying "look." The infants could choose between looking at a video image of two or women saying the word or an image of three women saying it. The babies spent significantly more time looking at the image that matched the number of women talking.

“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 Elizabeth Brannon of Duke University.

Previous work with monkeys yielded similar findings.

"These results support the idea that there is a shared system between preverbal infants and nonverbal animals for representing numbers,” Brannon said.

Previous studies searching for this ability in human infants had failed, say Brannon and colleague Kerry Jordan, because the methods were inadequate.

The study, announced today, is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research is pursued in an effort to better understand the evolutionary origins of numerical ability and how that ability has developed in humans.

Now aren't you glad you read this?

4 comments:

vw bug said...

Yep... They know exactly who has more. ;-)

MathCogIdiocy said...

Of course they do. :-)

Harvey said...

Me, I'd always be looking at the pictures of 3 women, because more is better :-)

MathCogIdiocy said...

Harvey! LOL. Not saying a word. You're such a man.