Temporal and Spatial Enumeration Processes in the Primate Parietal Cortex

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Science  08 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5792, pp. 1431-1435
DOI: 10.1126/science.1130308

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Humans and animals can nonverbally enumerate visual items across time in a sequence or rapidly estimate the set size of spatial dot patterns at a single glance. We found that temporal and spatial enumeration processes engaged different populations of neurons in the intraparietal sulcus of behaving monkeys. Once the enumeration process was completed, however, another neuronal population represented the cardinality of a set irrespective of whether it had been cued in a spatial layout or across time. These data suggest distinct neural processing stages for different numerical formats, but also a final convergence of the segregated information to form most abstract quantity representations.

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