Our knowledge of the world has a critical impact on the ability to use mathematical reasoning, even for mathematicians. Findings reveal math professionals can be duped by some aspects of their knowledge about the world and fail to solve simple fifth-grade math problems.
The average American can assess mathematical arguments for beauty just as they can for art or music. Using nine criteria for beauty, including elegance, intricacy, and universality, people were more likely to agree about the specific ways four different proofs were beautiful. The study sheds new light on broader issues in how and why humans have aesthetic experiences of abstract ideas.
The human brain acts like an indexing system to help compose the meaning of abstract concepts.
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Combining artificial intelligence, mathematical modeling, and brain imaging data, researchers shed light on the neural processes that occur when people use mental abstraction.
In other primate species, the brain areas that comprise the default mode network involve two systems that are not strongly connected to each other. The regions, one responsible for cognitive tasks and the other for the suppression of external events, appear to be only recently linked by evolution. This linkage may have facilitated the capacity for abstract thought that lead to the rapid evolution of human cognitive abilities.