Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Prof. Avishai Henik has won the European Research Council’s most prestigious grant of over  €2 million. The ERC gave top marks to the Department of Psychology researcher trying to show how important the ability to “perceive and evaluate sizes is to the development of numerical ability.”

“These skills are the basis for the development of numerical cognition,” said Henik. “The current research will examine human abilities in this area, the underlying brain system involved, and the possibility that this system (perception and evaluation of sizes and amounts) is the very first system (i.e., core system) that helped develop the number sense (i.e., basic numerical skills).”

In his research, Henik suggests that among the most important human skills that predict personal achievement in life is mathematical ability.

“In the last two decades we have witnessed impressive strides forward in studies of numerical cognition and its deficiencies. The accepted view is that we are born with an innate ability to compare quantities; children learn very early to count, understand the numerical system, and acquire what is generally called the number sense,” said Henik.

ERC Advanced Grants are given to allow exceptional established research leaders of any nationality and any age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains, according to information provided by the European Research Council.

The advanced grant given to Henik is BGU’s first, although university faculty members have won several starting grants before.