Cognitive inhibition of number/length interference in a Piaget-like task in young adults: Evidence from ERPs and fMRI

Gaëlle Leroux, Marc Joliot, Stéphanie Dubal, Bernard Mazoyer, Nathalie Tzourio-Mazoyer, Olivier Houdé
Hum. Brain Mapp.. 2006-01-01; 27(6): 498-509
DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20194

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1. Hum Brain Mapp. 2006 Jun;27(6):498-509.

Cognitive inhibition of number/length interference in a Piaget-like task in young
adults: evidence from ERPs and fMRI.

Leroux G(1), Joliot M, Dubal S, Mazoyer B, Tzourio-Mazoyer N, Houdé O.

Author information:
(1)Groupe d’Imagerie Neurofonctionnelle (GIN), UMR 6194, CNRS, CEA, Universités
de Caen et Paris-5, France.

We sought to determine whether the neural traces of a previous cognitive
developmental stage could be evidenced in young adults. In order to do so, 12
young adults underwent two functional imaging acquisitions (EEG then fMRI).
During each session, two experimental conditions were applied: a Piaget-like task
with number/length interference (INT), and a reference task with number/length
covariation (COV). To succeed at Piaget’s numerical task, which children under
the age of 7 years usually fail, the subjects had to inhibit a misleading
strategy, namely, the visuospatial length-equals-number bias, a quantification
heuristic that is often relevant and that continues to be used through adulthood.
Behavioral data confirmed that although there was an automation in the young
adult subjects as assessed by the very high number of accurate responses (>97%),
the inhibition of the “length equals number strategy” had a cognitive cost, as
the reaction times were significantly higher in INT than in COV (with a
difference of 230 ms). The event-related potential results acquired during the
first session showed electrophysiological markers of the cognitive inhibition of
the number/length interference. Indeed, the frontal N2 was greater during INT
than during COV, and a P3(late)/P6 was detected only during INT. During the fMRI
session, a greater activation of unimodal areas (the right middle and superior
occipital cortex) and in the ventral route (the left inferior temporal cortex)
was observed in INT than in COV. These results seem to indicate that when fully
automated in adults, inhibition processes might take place in unimodal areas.

Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

DOI: 10.1002/hbm.20194
PMID: 16161161 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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