The ability to use numbers has been the key to raising us from makers of
stone tools living in caves to creators of modern science living in great
cities. But where does this ability come from? Is it like reading, something
that depends crucially on learning a system that someone else has invented,
or is it as natural as talking? In a new and provocative study, Brian Butterworth
argues that our genes contain a set of instructions for building a "mathematical
and this is why, without benefit of teaching, human beings are born to count.
But can babies really use numbers? Can remote tribes count., even though they have
no number words? Why are some people so good, and others so bad, with numbers?
Is there number blindness just as there is colour blindness? Why are some,
types of numbers so hard to understand? What connects our hands to our sense
of number? Why does schooling leave us so muddled and discouraged that we close the
door on our mathematical brain? And what can we, do to open the door again?
Brian Butterworth answers these and other intriguing questions as he takes us
on a riveting biological and historical journey from tallymarks on the walls of
Ice Age caves and the body-counting of New Guinea to his own cutting-edge research
on mathematical brains, normal and abnormal. He tells us about the book-keeper who
could no longer count above four, and about the science graduate who has to solve the
simplest problems by counting on his fingers, as well as about the, calculating prodigy
who can find powers and roots in seconds.
Fascinating, challenging and completely engrossing, "The Mathematical Brain" throws
remarkable new light on our understanding of the extraordinary world of numbers.