Visual number sense in untrained deep neural networks

Gwangsu Kim, Jaeson Jang, Seungdae Baek, Min Song, Se-Bum Paik
2021 Science Advances  
Number sense, the ability to estimate numerosity, is observed in naïve animals, but how this cognitive function emerges in the brain remains unclear. Here, using an artificial deep neural network that models the ventral visual stream of the brain, we show that number-selective neurons can arise spontaneously, even in the complete absence of learning. We also show that the responses of these neurons can induce the abstract number sense, the ability to discriminate numerosity independent of
more » ... ndependent of low-level visual cues. We found number tuning in a randomly initialized network originating from a combination of monotonically decreasing and increasing neuronal activities, which emerges spontaneously from the statistical properties of bottom-up projections. We confirmed that the responses of these number-selective neurons show the single- and multineuron characteristics observed in the brain and enable the network to perform number comparison tasks. These findings provide insight into the origin of innate cognitive functions.
doi:10.1126/sciadv.abd6127 pmid:33523851 fatcat:6ioy2be7krf2fcsajbfniay3s4