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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Jun 23;106(25):10382-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812142106. Epub 2009 Jun 11.

Newborn infants perceive abstract numbers.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


Although infants and animals respond to the approximate number of elements in visual, auditory, and tactile arrays, only human children and adults have been shown to possess abstract numerical representations that apply to entities of all kinds (e.g., 7 samurai, seas, or sins). Do abstract numerical concepts depend on language or culture, or do they form a part of humans' innate, core knowledge? Here we show that newborn infants spontaneously associate stationary, visual-spatial arrays of 4-18 objects with auditory sequences of events on the basis of number. Their performance provides evidence for abstract numerical representations at the start of postnatal experience.

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