Neural Correlates of Quantity Processing of Numeral Classifiers

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Abstract

Objective: Classifiers play an important role in describing the quantity information of objects. Few studies have been conducted to investigate the brain organization for quantity processing of classifiers. In the current study, we investigated whether activation of numeral classifiers was specific to the bilateral inferior parietal areas, which are believed to process numerical magnitude. Method: Using functional MRI, we explored the neural correlates of numeral classifiers, as compared with those of numbers, dot arrays, and nonquantity words (i.e., tool nouns). Results: Our results showed that numeral classifiers and tool nouns elicited greater activation in the left inferior frontal lobule and left middle temporal gyrus than did numbers and dot arrays, but numbers and dot arrays had greater activation in the middle frontal gyrus, precuneus, and the superior and inferior parietal lobule in the right hemisphere. No differences were found between numeral classifiers and tool nouns. Conclusion: The results suggest that quantity processing of numeral classifiers is independent of that of numbers and dot arrays, supporting the notation-dependent hypothesis of quantity processing.

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