A six-month-old baby understands that one and one makes two, an innate talent shared with rats and racoons, chimpanzees and even crows. We all possess a primitive 'accumulator' within our heads, which allows us to recognise small numbers of objects and make reasonable estimates about the size of larger groups. More sophisticated mathematical skills build on these foundations and, as Dehaene shows in this brilliant book, involve quite distinct areas of the brain. Most teaching methods work against the grain of our natural abilities. Dehaene offers important new insights into how this can be avoided.
'Is number sense innate or learnt? A bit of both? How do our brains do maths, anyway? And where did the ability come from? Stanislas Dehaene, a mathematician who became a neuroscientist, is uniquely qualified to answer such questions, and The Number Sense is a delight... Let's not beat about the bush. Buy this book.'
Ian Stewart, New Scientist