Infant brains detect arithmetic errors

Andrea Berger, Gabriel Tzur, Michael I. Posner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

150 Scopus citations


A current debate is whether increased looking time in infancy is related to violation of expectations. In this study, 6- to 9-month-old infants' brain activity was analyzed during presentation of correct and incorrect solutions to simple arithmetic equations [(e.g., presentation of 1 + 1; one doll on a TV monitor, with another doll added from behind a screen, followed by a solution of 2 (correct) or 1 (incorrect)]. Infants looked longer at incorrect solutions than at correct ones. Event-related potentials, time-locked to the presentation of the solution, also differed between conditions, with greater negative activity for the incorrect solution condition. Spectral analysis showed a similar pattern to that of adults observing correct and incorrect arithmetical equations. These findings show (i) that the brain network involved in error detection can be identified in infancy and (ii) that this network can support an association between looking time and violation of expectations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12649-12653
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number33
StatePublished - 15 Aug 2006


  • Early arithmetic
  • Error detection
  • Event-related potential
  • Executive attention
  • Self-regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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