Numerosities and Other Magnitudes in the Brains: A Comparative View

Frontiers in Psychology 12 (2021)
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Abstract

The ability to represent, discriminate, and perform arithmetic operations on discrete quantities (numerosities) has been documented in a variety of species of different taxonomic groups, both vertebrates and invertebrates. We do not know, however, to what extent similarity in behavioral data corresponds to basic similarity in underlying neural mechanisms. Here, we review evidence for magnitude representation, both discrete (countable) and continuous, following the sensory input path from primary sensory systems to associative pallial territories in the vertebrate brains. We also speculate on possible underlying mechanisms in invertebrate brains and on the role played by modeling with artificial neural networks. This may provide a general overview on the nervous system involvement in approximating quantity in different animal species, and a general theoretical framework to future comparative studies on the neurobiology of number cognition.

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