Published December 2011,February 2011.
So even before babies can focus their eyes, they will be surprised to see a sum with the wrong answer! These core abilities, which Butterworth calls the "number module", may be the foundation of everything we learn about mathematics later in our lives.
The fact that we are born with some mathematical ability has some fascinating implications for our understanding of human thinking and therefore for our teaching. These studies also imply that mathematical ability can be separated from language, contrary to the findings of many eminent academics. The American Chomsky (1928-), who has a great reputation in linguistic research, believes that mathematical ability is a part of language. Piaget (1896-1980), renowned for his research in development psychology, claimed that mathematical ability doesn't start to appear at all in children until they have some elements of logical reasoning.
Butterworth, however, is suggesting that mathematical aptitude pre-empts any knowledge of linguistics. Newborn babies, commonly thought to be incapable of anything but eating, sleeping and crying, are actually budding mathematicians. We arrive in this world hardwired with basic number abilities, and very probably everything we learn later in life about mathematics builds on this fundamental core.