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Language in calculation: A core mechanism?

Benn, Y., Zheng, Y. ORCID:, Wilkinson, I. D., Siegal, M. and Varley, R. (2012) Language in calculation: A core mechanism? Neuropsychologia, 50 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 0028-3932

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.09.045


Although there is evidence that exact calculation recruits left hemisphere perisylvian language systems, recent work has shown that exact calculation can be retained despite severe damage to these networks. In this study, we sought to identify a “core” network for calculation and hence to determine the extent to which left hemisphere language areas are part of this network. We examined performance on addition and subtraction problems in two modalities: one using conventional two-digit problems that can be easily encoded into language; the other using novel shape representations. With regard to numerical problems, our results revealed increased left fronto-temporal activity in addition, and increased parietal activity in subtraction, potentially reflecting retrieval of linguistically encoded information during addition. The shape problems elicited activations of occipital, parietal and dorsal temporal regions, reflecting visual reasoning processes. A core activation common to both calculation types involved the superior parietal lobule bilaterally, right temporal sub-gyral area, and left lateralized activations in inferior parietal (BA 40), frontal (BA 6/8/32) and occipital (BA 18) regions. The large bilateral parietal activation could be attributed to visuo-spatial processing in calculation. The inferior parietal region, and particularly the left angular gyrus, was part of the core calculation network. However, given its activation in both shape and number tasks, its role is unlikely to reflect linguistic processing per se. A possibility is that it serves to integrate right hemisphere visuo-spatial and left hemisphere linguistic and executive processing in calculation.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Department of Bio-Engineering
ID Code:33474
Uncontrolled Keywords:Calculation; Language; Parietal cortex; Angular gyrus
Additional Information:► Aim: to fractionate the calculation network into ‘core’ and ‘support’. ► Bilateral superior and L. inferior parietal: the ‘core’ of the calculation system. ► Perisylvian region: useful support for calculation, but not part of the core network. ► Bilateral AG role in coordinating visuo-spatial, linguistic and executive information.

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