Magnitude processing in fetuses and neonates
Our field of interest is the processing of magnitudes in early infancy. While certain mathematical concepts are acquired during the course of life, the basic ability to detect magnitudes is apparent already in neonates. (Feigenson et al. 2002, Lipton & Spelke 2004, Wood & Spelke 2005). It has been shown that infants habituate to constant numbers of visual as well as auditory stimuli (see Cordes & Gelman, 2005, for a review). So far, empirical evidence in this area is mostly based on behavioral paradigms performed with infants. Furthermore, a recent EEG study (Ruusuvirta et al., 2009) found evidence for numerical discrimination in newborns. These findings imply that magnitude processing is in the domain of evolutionary based core knowledge.
Fetal and neonatal MEG allows the non-invasive investigation of neuronal responses after and even before birth. Currently we are investigating magnitude processing in neonates and fetuses by means of auditory oddball paradigms in which the stimuli differ in numerosity.
Our research is supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (BI/195-50) and the Werner Reichardt Centre for Integrative Neuroscience (Pool Project 2008-14).
Cordes & Gelman (2005) The young numerical mind: When does it count? In Campbell JID (Ed.) Handbook of mathematical cognition (127-142). New York: Psychology Press.
Feigenson, Carey, Spelke (2002) Infants' discrimination of number vs. continuous extent. Cognitive Psychology, 44, 33-66.
Lipton & Spelke (2004) Discrimination of large and small numerosities by human infants. Infancy, 5, 271-290.
Ruusuvirta, Huotilainen, Fellman, & Näätänen (2009). Numerical discrimination in newborn infants as revealed by event-related potentials to tone sequences. European Journal of Neuroscience, 30, 1620-1624.
Wood & Spelke (2005) Chronometric studies of numerical cognition in five-month-old infants. Cognition 97, 23-39.