Format

Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Feb;19(1):99-108. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.04.008. Epub 2009 May 15.

Prefrontal cortex and the evolution of symbolic reference.

Author information

1
Department of Animal Physiology, University of Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany. andreas.nieder@uni-tuebingen.de

Abstract

Symbol systems such as numbers and language are of paramount importance to human cognition. In number theory, numbers are symbolic signs embedded in a system of higher-order sign-sign relations. During ontogeny, numerical competence passes through different referential sign relations with increasing complexity, from an iconic to an indexical and finally symbolic stage. Animals such as nonhuman primates are constrained to indexical reference. However, because symbolic reference emerges from indexical reference, behavioral and neuronal representations of semantic sign-numerosity associations in animals can elucidate the precursors of symbol systems. A neurobiological explanation of how numerical signs take their meaning is proposed by suggesting that neurons in the granular prefrontal cortex, a novel brain structure evolved in primates, enable high-order associations and establish links between nonsymbolic numerosities and arbitrary signs.

PMID:
19447604
DOI:
10.1016/j.conb.2009.04.008
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

0 comments
How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center