Elizabeth M. Brannon

Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Chair in the Natural Sciences

BA, Biological Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

MA, Biological Anthropology, Psychology

Ph.D., Psychology, Columbia University

Dr. Brannon's research program examines the evolution and development of quantitative cognition. She studies how adult humans, infants, young children and nonhuman animals without language represent number. She uses behavioral techniques, event-related potentials, functional magnetic resonance imaging, and single-unit physiology to explore the cognitive and neural underpinnings of numerical cognition in nonhuman primates and throughout the human lifespan.  A major current focus is to study how training the primitive number sense might facilitate mathematical abilities in children and adults.


  • Stephanie Bugden [postdoc]
  • Nick DeWind [postdoc]
  • Emily Szudlarek [grad student]
Office Location: 
Room 356, Levin Building, 425 S. University Ave.
Research Interests: 

Animal Learning and Behavior

Behavioral Neuroscience

Developmental Psychology

Memory and Learning


Specific Research Areas:

Comparative Cognition

Numerical Cognition

Educational Neuroscience

Selected Publications: 

DeWind, N.K., G.K. Adams, Platt, M.L. Brannon, E. M., (2015). Modeling the approximate number system; Quantifying the contribution of visual stimulus features,  Cognition, 142, 247-265.

Drucker, C., & Brannon, E. M. (2014). Rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) map number onto space, Cognition, 132(1), 57-67. PMCID: PMC4031030.

Park, J., & Brannon, E. M. (2014). Improving arithmetic performance with number sense training: An investigation of underlying mechanism,Cognition, 133(1), 188-200. NIHMSID: NIHMS614955.

Pinhas, M., Woldorff, M., & Brannon, E.M. (2014). Electrophysiological evidence for the involvement of the approximate number system in preschoolers’ processing of spoken number words, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 26(9), 1891-1904. NIHMSID: 621122

Starr, A., Libertus, M.E., & Brannon, E.M. (2013). Infants show ratio dependent discrimination regardless of set size, Infancy, 18(6), 1-15. PMCID: PMC3864890

Cantlon, J.F., Platt, M.L., & Brannon, E.M. (2009). Beyond the number domain.  Invited review. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 13(2), 83-91.  PMCID: PMC2709421.