Counting and Using Zero animals. How Long Will Their Sense Go?

One explanation for the same neural framework that transforms different brains is that it is an efficient solution to a common computational problem. “It’s really exciting, because it suggests it’s just the best way,” Avarguès-Weber said. There may be physical or other problems that control how the brain processes zeros and other numbers. “There can be a very limited number of ways in which you can create a mechanism to encode numbers,” Vallortigara said.

Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscientist at the University of Trento, and his colleagues found signs that zebra fish have a place in their brain that corresponds to most.Courtesy of Giorgio Vallortigara

However, just because crows and monkeys seem to encode an abstract concept like zero in the same way doesn’t mean it’s the only way. “It’s possible that different solutions were invented during natural history, during biological evolution, to make the same calculation,” Vallortigara said. Researchers need to study other animals to find out. On a paper recently published in Cerebral CortexFor example, Vallortigara and his colleagues identified a region in the brain of zebra fish that seems to connect in large numbers, even if they have not yet tested the animals ’ability to detect zero.

Bees may also have surprises because the foundation for their abundance is better understood. on a study published last year, MaBouDi and his colleagues “showed that the bumblebee was counted by a variety of strategies” when presented with up to four items, he said. He thinks their findings mean that the mechanisms underlying the understanding of honeycomb numbers, including zero, may be very different from what has been observed so far.

But perhaps the more basic question about counting brain numbers in different animals is not how the ability works or why it exists. Why do animals need to know a specific number? Why is it repeated in evolution to ensure that animals understand not only four to no less than five but “four squares” in a way similar to the concept as “four circles”?

According to Vallortigara, one reason is probably because arithmetic ends up being so important. “Animals continue to have to do arithmetic. Even simple animals, ”he said. “If you have an abstract representation of counting numbers, it’s easiest to do.” The obstructing numerical information allows the brain to perform more calculations more efficiently.

Maybe that’s where zero fits too. If two predators enter an environment and only one leaf, the area will remain in danger. Rugani hypothesized that an animal should not only be able to get out of this situation, but should also interpret zero as “the result of a previously made number or proto-number subtraction”-where the animal can ‘ g interact with specific environmental conditions. In this case, “every time you reach the lowest value, which is zero, the environment is safe,” Rugani said. When looking for food, zero can map to a need to find a variety of locations.

Nieder, however, is not convinced. He sees no reason why animals should understand zero as a number, because seeing it as a loss is always enough. “I think animals don’t use counting zero as much in their daily lives,” he said.

An alternative possibility is that the understanding of zero-and most of the counting number-may come from the brain’s need to recognize the visual objects around it. In 2019, when Nieder and his colleagues trained an artificial network to identify objects in images, the ability to identify multiple objects. spontaneously arose, which as a product of much more work.

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For Nieder, the availability of talents for counting the number of animals suggests that “there is something already entrenched in the brains of these animals that could be an evolutionary basis for what we people can come to a full understanding of the number zero. ”

No matter how amazing the achievements of the animals, he reasoned that there are critical differences between how animals are shown to account for their number and how humans do it. We just don’t understand much; we link them to irrational numeric symbols. A set of five objects is not the same as the number 5, according to Nieder, and an empty set is not the same as 0.

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