Blog on Math Blogs

Mathematical Digest


Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Counting on Brains": Review of The Mathematical Brain, by BrianButterworth. Reviewed by Stanislas Dehaene. Nature, 9 September 1999,page 114.

This book, aimed at a general audience, discusses how the brain deals withnumbers. The author's central thesis is that the ability to count is inherentin the human brain. According to the review, the book's discussion of evidencefrom prehistory, including cave paintings and bone carvings, "is particularlyoriginal and commendable." The book also contains an intriguing descriptionof what seems to be a case of dyscalculia caused by defective genes. The book"is a skillful overview of the area for non-specialists, with remarkable depthand breadth in many cases, but with occasional oversights that may frustratethe expert," the reviewer writes.

--- Allyn Jackson