Sunday, October 10, 2010

iPost: Evolution of calculation abilities

Full article at link below


Front Evol Neurosci. 2010; 2: 7.
Published online 2010 June 23. Prepublished online 2010 March 1. doi:10.3389/fnevo.2010.00007.
PMCID: PMC2912036
On the Evolution of Calculation Abilities
Alfredo Ardila1*
1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
Edited by: J. M. Davis, University of Georgia, USA; University of Macau, China
Reviewed by: Anthony Dugbartey, University of Victoria, Canada; Tomone Takahashi, Shinshu University, Japan; Kelly Robinson, Georgia State University, USA
*Correspondence: Alfredo Ardila, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, NHS 431B, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33182, USA. e-mail:
Received January 25, 2010; Accepted June 7, 2010.
Some numerical knowledge, such as the immediate recognition of small quantities, is observed in animals. The development of arithmetical abilities found in man's evolution as well as in child's development represents a long process following different stages. Arithmetical abilities are relatively recent in human history and are clearly related with counting, i.e., saying aloud a series of number words that correspond to a collection of objects. Counting probably began with finger sequencing, and that may explain the 10-base found in most numerical systems. From a neuropsychological perspective, there is a strong relationship between numerical knowledge and finger recognition, and both are impaired in cases of left posterior parietal damage (angular or Gerstmann's syndrome). Writing numbers appeared earlier in human history than written language. Positional digit value is clearly evident in Babylonians, and around 1,000 BC the zero was introduced. Contemporary neuroimaging techniques, specifically fMRI, have demonstrated that the left parietal lobe, particularly the intraparietal sulcus, is systematically activated during a diversity of tasks; other areas, particularly the frontal lobe, are also involved in processing numerical information and solving arithmetical problems. It can be conjectured that numerical abilities continue evolving due to advances in mathematical knowledge and the introduction of new technologies.
Keywords: calculation abilities, numerical knowledge, calculation origins, brain evolution

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