The Evolutionary History of Brains for Numbers

Andreas Nieder, The Evolutionary History of Brains for Numbers, . Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 25, Issue 7, 2021, Pages 608-621 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.03.012.

Humans and other animals share a number sense’, an intuitive understanding of countable quantities. Having evolved independent from one another for hundreds of millions of years, the brains of these diverse species, including monkeys, crows, zebrafishes, bees, and squids, differ radically. However, in all vertebrates investigated, the pallium of the telencephalon has been implicated in number processing. This suggests that properties of the telencephalon make it ideally suited to host number representations that evolved by convergent evolution as a result of common selection pressures. In addition, promising candidate regions in the brains of invertebrates, such as insects, spiders, and cephalopods, can be identified, opening the possibility of even deeper commonalities for number sense.

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