Topographic representation of numerosity in the human parietal cortex

B M Harvey, B P Klein, N Petridou, S O Dumoulin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Numerosity, the set size of a group of items, is processed by the association cortex, but certain aspects mirror the properties of primary senses. Sensory cortices contain topographic maps reflecting the structure of sensory organs. Are the cortical representation and processing of numerosity organized topographically, even though no sensory organ has a numerical structure? Using high-field functional magnetic resonance imaging (at a field strength of 7 teslas), we described neural populations tuned to small numerosities in the human parietal cortex. They are organized topographically, forming a numerosity map that is robust to changes in low-level stimulus features. The cortical surface area devoted to specific numerosities decreases with increasing numerosity, and the tuning width increases with preferred numerosity. These organizational properties extend topographic principles to the representation of higher-order abstract features in the association cortex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1123-6
Number of pages4
Issue number6150
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2013


  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematical Concepts
  • Parietal Lobe
  • Perception
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Young Adult
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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