New research appearing in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says that babies may have a grasp of abstract numerical concepts much before they walk or talk. Reserachers at the Duke's University found that babies were able to match the number of voices they heard with the number of faces that they could see.
Neuroscientists Elizabeth Brannon and Kerry Jordan had found identical results with monkeys. In the current study, 20 seven-month-old infants were made to listen to women's voices saying, "look." The reserachers also provided them with video images or two or three women. It was found that the babies were able to match the number of voices they heard with the number of faces that spoke the words. "As a result of our experiments, we conclude that the babies are showing an internal representation of 'two-ness' or 'three-ness' that is separate from sensory modalities and, thus, reflects an abstract internal process," said Brannon. The reserachers said that this study indicated that numerical sense was an abstract concept and not related to any sense organ. Brannon is an assistant professor in Duke's Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, while Jordan is a graduate student at lab.