The neural circuits for arithmetic principles

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Abstract

Arithmetic principles are the regularities underlying arithmetic computation. Little is known about how the brain supports the processing of arithmetic principles. The current fMRI study examined neural activation and functional connectivity during the processing of verbalized arithmetic principles, as compared to numerical computation and general language processing. As expected, arithmetic principles elicited stronger activation in bilateral horizontal intraparietal sulcus and right supramarginal gyrus than did language processing, and stronger activation in left middle temporal lobe and left orbital part of inferior frontal gyrus than did computation. In contrast, computation elicited greater activation in bilateral horizontal intraparietal sulcus (extending to posterior superior parietal lobule) than did either arithmetic principles or language processing. Functional connectivity analysis with the psychophysiological interaction approach (PPI) showed that left temporal-parietal (MTG-HIPS) connectivity was stronger during the processing of arithmetic principle and language than during computation, whereas parietal-occipital connectivities were stronger during computation than during the processing of arithmetic principles and language. Additionally, the left fronto-parietal (orbital IFG-HIPS) connectivity was stronger during the processing of arithmetic principles than during computation. The results suggest that verbalized arithmetic principles engage a neural network that overlaps but is distinct from the networks for computation and language processing.

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