Mice know how to count Can mice count? A surprising response from science

he Meaning of numberclosely related IntelligenceIt is an essential skill in animals' perception of the world and increases their chances of survival. Thanks to a new numerical learning system, brain manipulation techniques and artificial intelligence models, a team of scientists has conducted an experiment Groundbreaking discovery: They confirmed the existence of a discrete number sense in mice.


The study, conducted by specialists from Hong Kong, sought to answer the question: Can rats count? The results confirmed this The rat brain contains a specific area related to numbers It sheds light on the mechanisms behind numerical ability.

The authors assert that their work, published in the journal Science Advances, provides “A A critical animal model for studying the neural underpinnings of numerical ability and disability in humans“.

The study indicates that “number sense is an important cognitive ability, essential for mathematical competence, and a hallmark of human intelligence.”


Between 3% and 7% of people suffer from it DyscalculiaLearning difficulties that affect the ability to learn arithmetic and mathematics in people with normal intelligence. Numerical sense deficit is one of the main symptoms.

Numerical meaning refers to the ability to compare, estimate, and manipulate non-symbolic numerical quantities.rather than their associated magnitudes, which are continuous dimensions inherent in a set of elements, such as the area of ​​visual objects or the duration of sound pulses.

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There have been many discussions about whether numerical meaning can be evaluated independently of the influence of continuous magnitudes. Furthermore, there has been a heated debate about whether the sense of size or the sense of numbers is more important.

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The research team minimized the impact of continuous magnitudes on numerical tests and conducted careful quantitative analyzes in the study to determine the contributions of both numbers and magnitudes.


The researchers developed a Algorithm for generating stimuli Which allowed the animals to focus only on numbers, Minimize other distractions. This has helped scientists better understand how animals perceive and measure numbers.

Among the conclusions reached by the study, this stands out Mice that had no prior knowledge of numbers were able to develop number sense when trained on the sounds Which represents two or three numbers. Despite the effect of continuous magnitudes, rats consistently focused on the number of sounds when choosing food rewards.

“Our study helps analyze the relationship between size processing and the sense of numbers. We found that when we blocked a specific part of the brain of mice, called the posterior parietal cortex, their ability to understand numbers was affected but their sense of numbers was not,” highlights Professor Young-Wing Ho, Co-author of the study.

“This indicates that The brain has a specific area for dealing with numbers. In fact, this It is the first time science has proven that mice have the ability to distinguish and classify three different numbers in a single test“This goes beyond a simple comparison of quantities,” Yong-Wing Ho adds.

An ancient mystery solved

“It's not just studying It solves a long-standing mystery about how the brain deals with numbersbut it also provides new insights into the study of specific neural circuits involved in number processing in animals and… How are genes related to athletic ability?says Professor Qi Ya, who is also a co-author of the research.

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“In addition, the results of neural network modeling could have practical applications in the field of artificial intelligence. In the future, our greater understanding of the brain mechanisms underlying number processing may contribute to the development of… Interventions for people with numerical difficulties“Ki Ya says.

“In conclusion, our study helps clarify the relationship between numerical meaning and sense of size The numerical sense is spontaneous and separate from the sense of greatnessThe report notes that numerical variability is inevitably inter-correlated with certain magnitudes in real life, and therefore, magnitudes will influence or bias number perception.

Numerical ability and disability are linked to environmental and genetic variationbut the exact role of an exercisehe around And the Genes “When it comes to impacting numerical ability,” he adds.

“In addition, some genes are associated with parietal cortex volume and mathematical ability through unknown mechanisms. The animal model we developed should be useful for studying these questions,” the study concluded.

Reference report: https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.adj2566

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Myrtle Frost

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