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The program in the winter term 2024/2025

October 24, 2024, 3 PM: 

Andreas Nieder (University of Tübingen): The neuronal basis of numerical cognition in humans and nonhuman animals 

Our understanding of numbers, vital to our scientifically and technically advanced culture, has deep biological roots. Research across developmental psychology, anthropology, and animal cognition suggests that our ability to count symbolically arises from more primitive non-symbolic number representations. By studying single-neuron activity in associative brain areas of awake human patients, monkeys, and crows, we aim to uncover the general principles behind how numbers are represented in the brain. Across all species, we've identified "number neurons" that encode set sizes regardless of how the stimuli are presented. These neurons play a crucial role in processing numerical information during goal-directed behavior, showcasing remarkable similarities in behavioral and neuronal mechanisms across species. Moreover, investigating how numbers are processed in working memory offers insights into high-level cognitive control functions. Comparative research in numerical cognition is uniquely positioned to unravel the brain processes enabling humans to transition from nonsymbolic to symbolic representations, a hallmark of our species.

Michael-Lankeit Lecture Hall, German Primate Center



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