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Stanislas Dehaene

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Stanislas Dehaene is a Professor at the Collège de France and has been director of INSERM Unit 562 (the French equivalent of the U.S. National Institutes of Health or the British Medical Research Council) since 1989. He has worked on a number of topics, including numerical cognition, the neural basis of reading and the neural correlates of consciousness. Dehaene was one of ten people to be awarded the James S. McDonnell Foundation Centennial Fellowship in 1999 for his work on the "Cognitive Neuroscience of Numeracy". In 2003, together with Denis Le Bihan, the Louis D. prize from the Institut de France (see (French)

Louis D. 2003). Dehaene is the author of more than 120 peer reviewed publications, author of two books, and editor of four others.   


Dehaene began his training as a mathematician, studying mathematics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. He obtaining his Masters degree in Applied mathematics and computer science in 1985 from the University of Paris VI. He turned to neuroscience and pscyhology after reading Jean-Pierre Changeux's book, L'Homme neuronal (Neuronal Man: The Biology of The Mind). Inspired by his reading of Changeux's work, Dehaene began collaborate with him on computational neuronal models of human cognition, including working memory and task control, collaborations which continue to the present day. Dehaene then completed his PhD in Experimental Psychology in 1989 with Jacques Mehler at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. After receiving his doctorate, Dehaene became a research scientist at INSERM in the Cognitive Sciences and Psycholinguistics Laboratory (Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique) directed by Mehler. He also spent two years, from 1992-1994, as a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, with Michael Posner at the University of Oregon. Dehaene then returned to France, where he began his own research group, which today numbers nearly 30 graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and researchers (for Dehaene's complete curriculum vitae see here [1]). In 2005, he was elected to the newly created Chair of Experimental Psychology at the Collège de France.

Numerical cognitionEdit

Main article: Numerical cognition

Dehaene is best-known for his work on numerical cognition, a discipline which he popularized and synthesized with the publication of his 1997 book, The Number Sense (La Bosse des maths) which won the (French)

Prix Jean Rostand for best French language general-audience scientific book.  He began his studies of numerical cognition with Jacques Mehler, examining the cross-linguistic frequency of number words,[1] whether numbers were understood in an analog or compositional manner,[2][3] and the connection between numbers and space (the "SNARC effect").[4] With Changeux, he then developed a computational model of numerical abilities, which predicted log-gaussian tuning functions for number neurons,[5] a finding which has now been elegantly confirmed with single-unit physiology[6]  With long-time collaborator Laurent Cohen, a neurologist at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris, Dehaene also identified patients with lesions in different regions of the parietal lobe with imparied multiplication, but preserved subtraction (associated with lesions of the inferior parietal lobule) and others with impaired subtraction, but preserved multiplication (associated with lesions to the intraparietal sulcus).[7]  This double dissociation suggested that different neural subtrates for overlearned, linguistically mediated calculations, like multiplication, are mediated by inferior parietal regions, while on-line computations, like subtraction are mediated by the intraparietal sulcus.  Shortly thereafer, Dehaene began EEG[8][9] and functional neuroimaging[10][11][12] studies of these capacities, showing that parietal and frontal regions were specifically involved in mathematical cognition, including the dissociation between subtraction and multiplication observed in his previous patient studies.


He subsequently turned his attention to work on the neural correlates of consciousness, leading to numerous scientific articles, an edited book, "The Cognitive Neuroscience of Consciousness" and is the Past President of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. Dehaene has developed computational models of consciousness, based on Bernard Baars Global Workspace Theory, which suggest that only one piece of information can gain access to a "global neuronal workspace".[13] To explore the neural basis of this global neuronal workspace, he has conducted functional neuroimaging experiments of masking and the attentional blink, which show that information that reaches conscious awareness leads to increased activation in a network of parietal and frontal regions.[14][15]

Neural basis of readingEdit

In addition, his work has neuronal models of cognitive functions associated with the prefrontal cortex, brain imaging of language processing in monolingual and bilingual subjects, and in collaboration with Laurent Cohen, he studies the neural basis of reading.

Editorial assignmentsEdit

He is also an associate editor of the journal Cognition, and a member of the editorial board of several other journals, including Neuroimage, PLoS Biology, and Developmental Science.

Books by Stanislas Dehaene Edit

  • Dehaene, S. (Ed.) Numerical Cognition. Oxford, Blackwell. ISBN 1-557-86444-6.
  • Dehaene, S. (Ed.) Le Cerveau en action: l'imagerie cérébrale en psychologie cognitive. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1997. ISBN 2-13-048270-8.
  • Dehaene, S. La Bosse des maths. Paris: Odile Jacob, 1997. ISBN 2-7381-0442-8.
  • Dehaene, S. The number sense. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997; Cambridge (UK): Penguin press, 1997. ISBN 0-19-511004-8.
  • Dehaene, S. (Ed.) The Cognitive Neuroscience of Consciousness. MIT Press, 2001. ISBN 0-262-54131-9.
  • Dehaene, S. Duhamel, J.R., Hauser, M. and Rozzolatti, G. (Ed.) From Monkey Brain to Human Brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2005. ISBN 0-262-04223-1.
  • Dehaene, S. Vers une science de la vie mentale. Paris: Fayard, 2007. (Inaugural Lecture at the Collège de France). ISBN 2-213-63084-4.


  1. Dehaene, S., & Mehler, J. (1992). Cross-linguistic regularities in the frequency of number words. Cognition 43:1–29.
  2. Dehaene, S (1989) The psychophysics of numerical comparison: a reexamination of apparently incompatible data. Perception & Psychophysics 45:557–566.
  3. Dehaene, S.Dupoux, E., & Mehler, J. (1990). Is numerical comparison digital? Analogical and symbolic effects in two-digit number comparison. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance 16:626–641.
  4. Dehaene, S., Bossini, S., & Giraux, P. (1993). The mental representation of parity and numerical magnitude. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 122:371–396.
  5. Dehaene, S., & Changeux, J.P. (1993). Development of elementary numerical abilities: A neuronal model. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 5:390–407.
  6. see Nieder, A. (2005) Counting on neurons: The neurobiology of numerical competence. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 6:177–190.
  7. Dehaene, S., & Cohen, L. (1991). Two mental calculation systems. Neuropsychologia 29:1045–74.
  8. Dehaene, S. (1996). The organization of brain activations in number comparison: Event-related potentials and the additive-factors method. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 8:47–68.
  9. Kiefer, M., & Dehaene, S. (1997). The time course of parietal activation in single-digit multiplication: Evidence from event-related potentials. Mathematical Cognition 3:1–30.
  10. Dehaene, S., Spelke, L., Pinel, P., Stanescu, R., Tsivkin, S. (1999). Sources of mathematical thinking : behavioral and brain-imaging evidence. Science 284:970–974
  11. Pinel, P., Le Clec’h, G., van de Moortele, P.F., Naccache, L., Le Bihan, D., & Dehaene, S. (1999). Event-related fMRI analysis of the cerebral circuit for number comparison. NeuroReport 10:1473–79.
  12. Chochon, F., Cohen, L., van de Moortele, P.F., & Dehaene, S. (1999). Differential contributions of the left and right inferior parietal lobules to number processing. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 11:617–630.
  13. Dehaene, S. and Naccache, L. (2001). Towards a cognitive neuroscience of consciousness: Basic evidence and a workspace framework. Cognition 79:1–37. PMID 11164022
  14. Dehaene, S., Naccache, L., Cohen, L., LeBihan, D., Mangin, J.F., Poline, J.-B. and Rivière, D. (2001). Cerebral mechanisms of word masking and unconscious repetition priming. Nature Neuroscience 4:752–758. PMID 11426233
  15. Sergent, C., Baillet, S., and Dehaene, S. (2005). Timing of the brain events underlying access to consciousness during the attentional blink. Nature Neuroscience 8(10):1285–86. PMID 16158062

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