The brain processes certain numbers differently

We count differently depending on the number of objects. Because? It turns out that our brain has two types of neurons responsible for numbers. A study tries to explain deficiencies in the ability to perform numerical operations, such as dyscalculia. And he concludes that the brain processes certain numbers differently.

If you are presented with four or fewer objects, you can usually determine their sum at a glance without having to count them. The probability of mentioning the wrong number is extremely low. What if there are more than five objects? The person will spend more time counting and will probably begin to doubt the accuracy of their answer. In turn, the number of correct answers will decrease.

The brain processes certain numbers differently.  Because?
The brain processes certain numbers differently. Because?

Specific neurons

When you see up to four objects, you know their number without having to count or guess. This human capacity is called subitization. It is a term coined by psychologists in the 20th century.

The subitizing ability suddenly disappears for quantities greater than four. Our brains use two different processing methods, specialized for small or large amounts. A new scientific study confirms this fact.

Research has shown that the human brain has neurons responsible for each number. The neurons responsible for smaller numbers are stronger, since they respond to their own number. They inhibit the neurons in charge of neighboring numbers. In this way, mixed signals regarding the value considered are completely excluded.

The neurons responsible for large numbers also fire in response to close numbers. «A brain cell for an element number 'seven' is also activated for six and eight elements, but weaker. The same cell is still activated, but even less for five or nine elements,” they say.

There are neurons associated with a certain number.
There are neurons associated with a certain number.

counting points

The scientists formed a group of 17 people. They implanted electrodes in the temporal lobes “to measure the reaction of each of the nerve cells to visual stimuli.”

Participants looked at a computer screen. It showed a different number of dots for half a second. They then had to respond if they saw an even or odd number of dots. If there were four points or less, the answers were quick and most of the time correct. If the number of points was greater than five, it was the opposite. The brain processes certain numbers differently. The study was published in the journal Nature Human Behavior.

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