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Common brain regions underlying different arithmetic operations as revealed by conjunct fMRI-BOLD activation.

Authors
  • Fehr, Thorsten
  • Code, Chris
  • Herrmann, Manfred
Type
Published Article
Journal
Brain Research
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Oct 03, 2007
Volume
1172
Pages
93–102
Identifiers
PMID: 17822681
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

The issue of how and where arithmetic operations are represented in the brain has been addressed in numerous studies. Lesion studies suggest that a network of different brain areas are involved in mental calculation. Neuroimaging studies have reported inferior parietal and lateral frontal activations during mental arithmetic using tasks of different complexities and using different operators (addition, subtraction, etc.). Indeed, it has been difficult to compare brain activation across studies because of the variety of different operators and different presentation modalities used. The present experiment examined fMRI-BOLD activity in participants during calculation tasks entailing different arithmetic operations -- addition, subtraction, multiplication and division -- of different complexities. Functional imaging data revealed a common activation pattern comprising right precuneus, left and right middle and superior frontal regions during all arithmetic operations. All other regional activations were operation specific and distributed in prominently frontal, parietal and central regions when contrasting complex and simple calculation tasks. The present results largely confirm former studies suggesting that activation patterns due to mental arithmetic appear to reflect a basic anatomical substrate of working memory, numerical knowledge and processing based on finger counting, and derived from a network originally related to finger movement. We emphasize that in mental arithmetic research different arithmetic operations should always be examined and discussed independently of each other in order to avoid invalid generalizations on arithmetics and involved brain areas.

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