# Thread: Women Beat Men at THIS

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## Women Beat Men at THIS

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Well, math is certainly not my forte, but according to Science.....

Scientific Proof:
Women Beat Men at THIS

A mathematical experiment involving 18,000 people in Great Britain has shown that women are far better at instant counting than men.

Specifically, if there are more than five objects, both sexes count at the same speed, but when there are less than five, women have a better instinct than men for counting fast. In mathematical terms, this kind of counting is called "subitizing." Counting that involves numerous objects is called higher level counting.

It was first suggested 50 years ago that the brain has two distinct ways of counting--one for just a few objects and one for more objects. "If I hold up three fingers, most people don't need to count how many there are," lead scientist Brian Butterworth from University of College London told New Scientist. But when that number increases, we need more time to count or calculate the total. Butterworth thinks we use different mechanisms to count small and large numbers, but proving this has been difficult.

The study: Some 18,000 visitors to the @Bristol Science Centre in England participated in the experiment as they walked through a series of interactive exhibits. In one of these, different numbers of dots were displayed on a touch screen. Participants were timed on how fast they calculated the correct number of dots.

The results: When there were less than five dots, women counted them faster. "The differences were small but significant," says lead scientist Brian Butterworth from University of College London told New Scientist, acknowledging that this was not what they thought would happen. And gender wasn't the only factor that affected subitizing and higher level counting. When the dots were on the left side of the screen, participants were able to count them 6 percent faster than when they were presented on the right--but only when there were five or more dots, reports New Scientist.

So it would seem from this that our brains deal differently with small and large numbers. While we seem to have an automatic sense of two and three, it is much harder to instantly distinguish 9 or 16 or 23.

The research is not definitive and must be performed by others in a more controlled setting than a museum. "The factor may not be gender," Stanislas Dehaene, a scientist at INSERM in Paris, France, explained to New Scientist. "It could be that girls going to the museum are better at this than average girls." However, he insists that the very existence of a factor--no matter what it is--supports the idea that there are two ways of counting.

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Ah, so that's why I can beat Mathman at math as long as the numbers don't go higher than two and he beats me at all numbers higher than that, lol.

Interesting stuff, Lad. I wonder why that is? I bet it has to do with child rearing, since our brains are still pretty much hard-wired to deal with primitive situations.
Rgirl

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I have also read about studies of teaching toddlers to count. Evidently the part of the brain that allows you to count up to five is different from the part that lets you count from five to ten. It has been reported that very young children -- say, 18 months -- can be taught to count to five. But it is impossible for them to count to ten until they are older and other parts of their brains have developed more.

MM

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Very interesting. I wonder if this goes back to before we could count? As in are all the members of the tribe/family here? Are all the items here? And other questions that would drive me crazy if I couldn't count.
dpp

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I think there have been studies of animals. Chimpanzees can easily distinguish between two and three without counting, for instance.

Some birds can tell if there is an extra egg in their nest, left there by a bird of a different species, and then they kick out all the eggs and start over.

MM

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"Al you can do theory of relativity, but you can't count!!!" Artur Schnabel (at piano) on Einstein (at violin)

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