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      Supramodal numerosity selectivity of neurons in primate prefrontal and posterior parietal cortices.

      Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
      Acoustic Stimulation, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Cognition, physiology, Discrimination (Psychology), Eye Movements, Macaca mulatta, Mathematical Concepts, Neurons, Parietal Lobe, cytology, Photic Stimulation, Prefrontal Cortex

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          Abstract

          Numerosity, the number of elements in a set, is a most abstract quantitative category. As such, it is independent of the sensory modality of its elements, i.e., supramodal. Because neuronal numerosity selectivity had never been compared directly across different sensory modalities, it remained elusive if and where single neurons encode numerosity irrespective of the items' modality. Here, monkeys were trained to discriminate both the number of auditory sounds and visual items within the same session. While the monkeys performed this task, the activity of neurons was recorded in the lateral prefrontal cortex and ventral intraparietal sulcus, structures critically involved in numerical cognition. Groups of neurons in both areas encoded either the number of auditory pulses, visual items, or both. The finding of neurons responding to numerosity irrespective of the sensory modality supports the idea of a nonverbal, supramodal neuronal code of numerical quantity in the primate brain.

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