Rapid and Direct Encoding of Numerosity in the Visual Stream.


Journal Article

Humans are endowed with an intuitive number sense that allows us to perceive and estimate numerosity without relying on language. It is controversial, however, as to whether there is a neural mechanism for direct perception of numerosity or whether numerosity is perceived indirectly via other perceptual properties. In this study, we used a novel regression-based analytic method, which allowed an assessment of the unique contributions of visual properties, including numerosity, to explain visual evoked potentials of participants passively viewing dot arrays. We found that the human brain is uniquely sensitive to numerosity and more sensitive to changes in numerosity than to changes in other visual properties, starting extremely early in the visual stream: 75 ms over a medial occipital site and 180 ms over bilateral occipitoparietal sites. These findings provide strong evidence for the existence of a neural mechanism for rapidly and directly extracting numerosity information in the human visual pathway.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Park, J; DeWind, NK; Woldorff, MG; Brannon, EM

Published Date

  • February 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 26 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 748 - 763

PubMed ID

  • 25715283

Pubmed Central ID

  • 25715283

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1460-2199

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1093/cercor/bhv017


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States