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December 23rd, 2008
In the News: Counting Without Numbers

Researcher Brian Butterworth

One of the earliest things American children are taught is how to count items out loud: one, two, three… But how much do humans understand about numbers before they learn this vocabulary? An interesting study conducted by Brian Butterworth and colleagues at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London addressed this question with Australian Aboriginal children, whose society doesn’t use counting words beyond one, two, few and many.

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  • Fred Slocombe

    My first guess would be to link counting to a primary survival instinct which goes back to when humans encountered carnivorous animals that hunted in packs. Like the horizontally concentrated visual receptor structure of the human eye, for example.

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