Representation of number in the brain

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2009:32:185-208. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.051508.135550.


Number symbols have allowed humans to develop superior mathematical skills that are a hallmark of technologically advanced cultures. Findings in animal cognition, developmental psychology, and anthropology indicate that these numerical skills are rooted in nonlinguistic biological primitives. Recent studies in human and nonhuman primates using a broad range of methodologies provide evidence that numerical information is represented and processed by regions of the prefrontal and posterior parietal lobes, with the intraparietal sulcus as a key node for the representation of the semantic aspect of numerical quantity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mathematical Concepts*
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Primates / anatomy & histology
  • Primates / physiology
  • Symbolism*