: Perception of numerousness, i.e. number of items in a set, is an important cognitive ability, which is present in several animal taxa. In spite of obvious differences in neuroanatomy, insects, fishes, reptiles, birds, and mammals all possess a "number sense". Furthermore, information regarding numbers can belong to different sensory modalities: animals can estimate a number of visual items, a number of tones, or a number of their own movements. Given both the heterogeneity of stimuli and of the brains processing these stimuli, it is hard to imagine that number cognition can be traced back to the same evolutionary conserved neural pathway. However, neurons that selectively respond to the number of stimuli have been described in higher-order integration brain centres both in primates and in birds, two evolutionary distant groups. Although most probably not of the same evolutionary origin, these number neurons share remarkable similarities in their response properties. Instead of homology, this similarity might result from computational advantages of the underlying coding mechanism. This means that one might expect numerousness information to undergo similar steps of neural processing even in evolutionary distant neural pathways. Following this logic, in this review we summarize our current knowledge of how numerousness is processed in the brain from sensory input to coding of abstract information in the higher-order integration centres. We also propose a list of key open questions that might promote future research on number cognition.

Neural coding of numerousness / Kobylkov, D.; Zanon, M.; Perrino, M.; Vallortigara, G.. - In: BIOSYSTEMS. - ISSN 1872-8324. - 232:(2023), p. 104999. [10.1016/j.biosystems.2023.104999]

Neural coding of numerousness

Kobylkov D.;Zanon M.;Perrino M.;Vallortigara G.
2023-01-01

Abstract

: Perception of numerousness, i.e. number of items in a set, is an important cognitive ability, which is present in several animal taxa. In spite of obvious differences in neuroanatomy, insects, fishes, reptiles, birds, and mammals all possess a "number sense". Furthermore, information regarding numbers can belong to different sensory modalities: animals can estimate a number of visual items, a number of tones, or a number of their own movements. Given both the heterogeneity of stimuli and of the brains processing these stimuli, it is hard to imagine that number cognition can be traced back to the same evolutionary conserved neural pathway. However, neurons that selectively respond to the number of stimuli have been described in higher-order integration brain centres both in primates and in birds, two evolutionary distant groups. Although most probably not of the same evolutionary origin, these number neurons share remarkable similarities in their response properties. Instead of homology, this similarity might result from computational advantages of the underlying coding mechanism. This means that one might expect numerousness information to undergo similar steps of neural processing even in evolutionary distant neural pathways. Following this logic, in this review we summarize our current knowledge of how numerousness is processed in the brain from sensory input to coding of abstract information in the higher-order integration centres. We also propose a list of key open questions that might promote future research on number cognition.
2023
Kobylkov, D.; Zanon, M.; Perrino, M.; Vallortigara, G.
Neural coding of numerousness / Kobylkov, D.; Zanon, M.; Perrino, M.; Vallortigara, G.. - In: BIOSYSTEMS. - ISSN 1872-8324. - 232:(2023), p. 104999. [10.1016/j.biosystems.2023.104999]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/389809
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