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Curr Biol. 2005 Jun 7;15(11):1034-8.

Monkeys match the number of voices they hear to the number of faces they see.

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  • 1Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, Box 90999, Durham, North Carolina 27708, USA.


Convergent evidence demonstrates that adult humans possess numerical representations that are independent of language [1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6]. Human infants and nonhuman animals can also make purely numerical discriminations, implicating both developmental and evolutionary bases for adult humans' language-independent representations of number [7 and 8]. Recent evidence suggests that the nonverbal representations of number held by human adults are not constrained by the sensory modality in which they were perceived [9]. Previous studies, however, have yielded conflicting results concerning whether the number representations held by nonhuman animals and human infants are tied to the modality in which they were established [10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15]. Here, we report that untrained monkeys preferentially looked at a dynamic video display depicting the number of conspecifics that matched the number of vocalizations they heard. These findings suggest that number representations held by monkeys, like those held by adult humans, are unfettered by stimulus modality.

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