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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2005 Mar;6(3):177-90.

Counting on neurons: the neurobiology of numerical competence.

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Primate NeuroCognition Laboratory, Department of Cognitive Neurology, Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Strasse 3, 72076 Tübingen, Germany.


Numbers are an integral part of our everyday life - we use them to quantify, rank and identify objects. The verbal number concept allows humans to develop superior mathematical and logic skills that define technologically advanced cultures. However, basic numerical competence is rooted in biological primitives that can be explored in animals, infants and human adults alike. We are now beginning to unravel its anatomical basis and neuronal mechanisms on many levels, down to its single neuron correlate. Neural representations of numerical information can engage extensive cerebral networks, but the posterior parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex are the key structures in primates.

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