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The number sense : how the mind creates mathematics

Author: Stanislas Dehaene
Publisher: New York : Oxford University Press, 1997.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Dehaene, a mathematician turned cognitive neuropsychologist, begins with the eye-opening discovery that animals, including rats, pigeons, raccoons, and chimpanzees, can perform simple mathematical calculations. He goes on to describe ingenious experiments that show that human infants also have a rudimentary number sense. Dehaene shows that the animal and infant abilities for dealing with small numbers and with  Read more...
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Dehaene, Stanislas.
Number sense.
New York : Oxford University Press, 1997
(OCoLC)622923639
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Stanislas Dehaene
ISBN: 0195110048 9780195110043
OCLC Number: 36159480
Description: xi, 274 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Contents: Our Numerical Heritage --
Talented and Gifted Animals --
A Horse Named Hans --
Rat Accountants --
How Abstract Are Animal Calculations? --
The Accumulator Metaphor --
Number-Detecting Neurons? --
Fuzzy Counting --
The Limits of Animal Mathematics --
From Animal to Human --
Babies Who Count --
Baby Building: Piaget's Theory --
Piaget's Errors --
Younger and Younger --
Babies' Power of Abstraction --
How Much Is 1 plus 1? --
The Limits of Infant Arithmetic --
Nature, Nurture, and Number --
The Adult Number Line --
1, 2, 3, and Beyond --
Approximating Large Numbers --
The Quantity Behind the Symbols --
The Mental Compression of Large Numbers --
Reflexive Access to Number Meaning --
A Sense of Space --
Do Numbers Have Colors? --
Intuitions of Number --
Beyond Approximation --
The Language of Numbers --
A Short History of Number --
Keeping a Permanent Trace of Numerals --
The Place-Value Principle --
An Exuberant Diversity of Number Languages --
The Cost of Speaking English --
Learning to Label Quantities --
Round Numbers, Sharp Numbers --
Why Are Some Numerals More Frequent Than Others? --
Cerebral Constraints on Cultural Evolution --
Small Heads for Big Calculations --
Counting: The ABC of Calculation --
Preschoolers as Algorithm Designers --
Memory Appears on the Scene --
The Multiplication Table: An Unnatural Practice? --
Verbal Memory to the Rescue --
Mental Bugs --
Pros and Cons of the Electronic Calculator --
Innumeracy: Clear and Present Danger? --
Teaching Number Sense --
Geniuses and Prodigies --
A Numerical Bestiary.
Responsibility: Stanislas Dehaene.
More information:

Abstract:

Dehaene, a mathematician turned cognitive neuropsychologist, begins with the eye-opening discovery that animals, including rats, pigeons, raccoons, and chimpanzees, can perform simple mathematical calculations. He goes on to describe ingenious experiments that show that human infants also have a rudimentary number sense. Dehaene shows that the animal and infant abilities for dealing with small numbers and with approximate calculations persist in human adults and have a strong influence on the way we represent numbers and perform more complex calculations later in life. According to Dehaene, it was the invention of symbolic systems for writing and talking about numerals that started us on the climb to higher mathematics. He traces the cultural history of numbers and shows how this cultural evolution reflects the constraints that our brain architecture places on learning and memory. Dehaene also explores the unique abilities of idiot savants and mathematical geniuses, asking whether simple cognitive explanations can be found for their exceptional talents. In a final section, the cerebral substrates of arithmetic are described. We meet people whose brain lesions made them lose highly specific aspects of their numerical abilities - one man, in fact, who thinks that two and two is three! Such lesion data converge nicely with the results of modern imaging techniques (PET scans, MRI, and EEG) to help pinpoint the brain circuits that encode numbers. From sex differences in arithmetic to the pros and cons of electronic calculators, the adequacy of the brain-computer metaphor, or the interactions between our representations of space and of number, Dehaene reaches many provocative conclusions that will intrigue anyone interested in mathematics or the mind.

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