Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download campus access dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users: Please talk to your librarian about requesting this dissertation through interlibrary loan.

Dissertations that have an embargo placed on them will not be available to anyone until the embargo expires.


Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



Learning the count list (one, two, three, …) is a critical stepping-stone for the acquisition of number concepts. Most research about counting, however, is done in the behavioral domain, and little is known about the neural representations underlying counting sequences. Here, we test the hypothesis that transitional knowledge within a counting sequence exist both at sensory and conceptual (ordinal and magnitude) levels. To test this hypothesis, we employed a passive-listening violation-to-expectation fMRI paradigm where adult participants heard auditory count sequences that were correct (4 5 6 7) or violated at the end (4 5 6 8; consecutiveness) and, orthogonally, that were ordered or unordered (orderedness). Another orthogonal dimension was the manipulation of sensory sequence violation where the voice speaking the numbers was consistent throughout the trial or could change on the last number (voice identity). This 2x2x2 factorial design was analyzed using univariate and multivariate pattern analyses. Three clusters in the right fronto-parietal network (BA44, BA46, and IPS) showed greater neural response to violations to orderedness. Of the three clusters, the anterior IFG (BA46) demonstrated the encoding of consecutiveness. Interestingly, the bilateral STG, which showed a robust effect to violations in voice identity, also demonstrated the encoding of consecutiveness. These results indicate that a right-lateralized fronto-parietal network activity can differentiate between a count list and random numbers, while BA46 and bilateral STG respond specifically to violations of the count sequence, suggesting specific mechanisms in the brain for processing consecutive numbers in both the perceptual and cognitive levels.


First Advisor

Joonkoo Park

Second Advisor

David Arnold

Third Advisor

Lisa Sanders

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.