Wired for Math

Our brains seem to come equipped with systems for estimating amounts and adding numbers.

By Emily Sohn, 00:00 AM November 28, 2005

Quick. What's 845 + 289? Sorry, time's up.

Few people can add numbers in their heads that quickly. If someone showed you a set of 845 dots next to a set of 289 dots, however, you'd probably be able to tell right away which set has more dots. You could probably also tell that 845 dots is more than 100 dots plus 189 dots, even if you saw all three sets of dots separately.

How quickly can you solve this problem?

How quickly can you solve this problem?

By giving tests like these to kids and adults, scientists are discovering that...

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