Neural correlates of simple and complex mental calculation

Laure Zago, Mauro Pesenti, Emmanuel Mellet, Fabrice Crivello, Bernard Mazoyer, Nathalie Tzourio-Mazoyer
NeuroImage. 2001-02-01; 13(2): 314-327
DOI: 10.1006/nimg.2000.0697

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1. Neuroimage. 2001 Feb;13(2):314-27.

Neural correlates of simple and complex mental calculation.

Zago L(1), Pesenti M, Mellet E, Crivello F, Mazoyer B, Tzourio-Mazoyer N.

Author information:
(1)Groupe d’Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle, UMR 6095 CNRS, CEA, Université de Caen &
Université de Paris V, Caen, France.

Some authors proposed that exact mental calculation is based on linguistic
representations and relies on the perisylvian language cortices, while the
understanding of proximity relations between numerical quantities implicates the
parietal cortex. However, other authors opposed developmental arguments to
suggest that number sense emerges from nonspecific visuospatial processing areas
in the parietal cortex. Within this debate, the present study aimed at revealing
the functional anatomy of the two basic resolution strategies involved in mental
calculation, namely arithmetical fact retrieval and actual computation,
questioning in particular the respective role of language and/or visuospatial
cerebral areas. Regional cerebral blood flow was measured with positron emission
tomography while subjects were at rest (Rest), read digits (Read), retrieved
simple arithmetic facts from memory (i.e., 2 x 4, Retrieve), and performed mental
complex calculation (i.e., 32 x 24, Compute). Compared to Read, Retrieve engaged
a left parieto-premotor circuit representing a developmental trace of a
finger-counting representation that mediates, by extension, the numerical
knowledge in adult. Beside this basic network, Retrieve involved a naming
network, including the left anterior insula and the right cerebellar cortex,
while it did not engage the perisylvian language areas, which were deactivated as
compared to Rest. In addition to this retrieval network, Compute specifically
involved two functional networks: a left parieto-frontal network in charge of the
holding of the multidigit numbers in visuospatial working memory and a bilateral
inferior temporal gyri related to the visual mental imagery resolution strategy.
Overall, these results provide strong evidence of the involvement of visuospatial
representations in different levels of mental calculation.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

DOI: 10.1006/nimg.2000.0697
PMID: 11162272 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

Auteurs Bordeaux Neurocampus