Dissociating Arithmetic Operations in the Parietal Cortex Using 1 Hz Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation: The Importance of Strategy Use.
ABSTRACT: The triple-code model (TCM) of number processing suggests the involvement of distinct parietal cortex areas in arithmetic operations: the bilateral horizontal segment of the intraparietal sulcus (hIPS) for arithmetic operations that require the manipulation of numerical quantities (e.g., subtraction) and the left angular gyrus (AG) for arithmetic operations that require the retrieval of answers from long-term memory (e.g., multiplication). Although neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and brain stimulation studies suggest the dissociation of these operations into distinct parietal cortex areas, the role of strategy (online calculation vs. retrieval) is not yet fully established. In the present study, we further explored the causal involvement of the left AG for multiplication and left hIPS for subtraction using a neuronavigated repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) paradigm. Stimulation sites were determined based on an fMRI experiment using the same tasks. To account for the effect of strategy, participants were asked whether they used retrieval or calculation for each individual problem. We predicted that the stimulation of the left AG would selectively disrupt the retrieval of the solution to multiplication problems. On the other hand, stimulation of the left hIPS should selectively disrupt subtraction. Our results revealed that left AG stimulation was detrimental to the retrieval and online calculation of solutions for multiplication problems, as well as, the retrieval (but not online calculation) of the solutions to subtraction problems. In contrast, left hIPS stimulation had no detrimental effect on both operations regardless of strategy.
Project description:Although lesion studies over the past several decades have focused on functional dissociations in posterior parietal cortex (PPC) during arithmetic, no consistent view has emerged of its differential involvement in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. To circumvent problems with poor anatomical localization, we examined functional overlap and dissociations in cytoarchitectonically defined subdivisions of the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), superior parietal lobule (SPL) and angular gyrus (AG), across these four operations. Compared to a number identification control task, all operations except addition, showed a consistent profile of left posterior IPS activation and deactivation in the right posterior AG. Multiplication and subtraction differed significantly in right, but not left, IPS and AG activity, challenging the view that the left AG differentially subserves retrieval during multiplication. Although addition and multiplication both rely on retrieval, multiplication evoked significantly greater activation in right posterior IPS, as well as the prefrontal cortex, lingual and fusiform gyri, demonstrating that addition and multiplication engage different brain processes. Comparison of PPC responses to the two pairs of inverse operations: division versus multiplication and subtraction versus addition revealed greater activation of left lateral SPL during division, suggesting that processing inverse relations is operation specific. Our findings demonstrate that individual IPS, SPL and AG subdivisions are differentially modulated by the four arithmetic operations and they point to significant functional heterogeneity and individual differences in activation and deactivation within the PPC. Critically, these effects are related to retrieval, calculation and inversion, the three key cognitive processes that are differentially engaged by arithmetic operations. Our findings point to distribute representation of these processes in the human PPC and also help explain why lesion and previous imaging studies have yielded inconsistent findings.
Project description:Neuroimaging studies suggest segregated neuronal systems underlying number magnitude processing (e.g. subtraction) and arithmetic fact retrieval (e.g. multiplication). While number magnitude processing is thought to rely on the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) bilaterally, arithmetic fact retrieval is thought to rely on the left angular gyrus (AG). However, evidence from brain damaged patients and brain stimulation challenges this view and suggests considerable overlap between the systems underlying number magnitude processing and arithmetic fact retrieval. This study investigates, whether sex differences in number processing can account for these conflicting findings. A subtraction and a multiplication task were administered to 40 men and 34 women in their luteal phase during functional MRI. Replicating previous studies in men, we found the IPS to be more strongly activated during subtraction than multiplication, and the AG to be more strongly activated during multiplication than subtraction. However, no differences between the two tasks were observed in women.
Project description:Arithmetic facts, in particular multiplication tables, are thought to be stored in long-term memory and to be interference prone. At least two representations underpinning these arithmetic facts have been suggested: a physical representation of the digits and a numerical magnitude representation. We hypothesized that both representations are possible sources of interference that could explain individual differences in multiplication fact performance and/or in strategy use. We investigated the specificity of these interferences on arithmetic fact retrieval and explored the relation between interference and performance on the different arithmetic operations and on general mathematics achievement. Participants were 79 fourth-grade children (Mage=9.6 years) who completed a products comparison and a multiplication production task with verbal strategy reports. Performances on a speeded calculation test including the four operations and on a general mathematics achievement test were also collected. Only the interference coming from physical representations was a significant predictor of the performance across multiplications. However, both the magnitude and physical representations were unique predictors of individual differences in multiplication. The frequency of the retrieval strategy across multiplication problems and across individuals was determined only by the physical representation, which therefore is suggested as being responsible for memory storage issues. Interestingly, this impact of physical representation was not observed when predicting performance on subtraction or on general mathematical achievement. In contrast, the impact of the numerical magnitude representation was more general in that it was observed across all arithmetic operations and in general mathematics achievement.
Project description:Mastering single-digit arithmetic during school years is commonly thought to depend upon an increasing reliance on verbally memorized facts. An alternative model, however, posits that fluency in single-digit arithmetic might also be achieved via the increasing use of efficient calculation procedures. To test between these hypotheses, we used a cross-sectional design to measure the neural activity associated with single-digit subtraction and multiplication in 34 children from 2nd to 7th grade. The neural correlates of language and numerical processing were also identified in each child via localizer scans. Although multiplication and subtraction were undistinguishable in terms of behavior, we found a striking developmental dissociation in their neural correlates. First, we observed grade-related increases of activity for multiplication, but not for subtraction, in a language-related region of the left temporal cortex. Second, we found grade-related increases of activity for subtraction, but not for multiplication, in a region of the right parietal cortex involved in the procedural manipulation of numerical quantities. The present results suggest that fluency in simple arithmetic in children may be achieved by both increasing reliance on verbal retrieval and by greater use of efficient quantity-based procedures, depending on the operation.
Project description:Many studies have shown that solving addition and subtraction problems can induce overt shifts of spatial attention. In particular, right-side targets are detected faster than left-side targets when preceded by an addition operation, while left-side targets are detected faster than right-side targets when preceded by a subtraction operation. However, the interaction between space and arithmetic in multiplication or division is hardly studied and remains controversial. In order to make a strong case for the interaction between space and mental arithmetic, we attempted to replicate the spatial-arithmetic association in addition and subtraction (Experiment 1), and at the same time investigated whether shift of spatial attention would also be induced by multiplication or division operations (Experiment 2). We found that solving addition problems facilitated the detection of right-side targets, whereas left-side targets were detected faster after solving subtraction problems. However, no interaction between space and arithmetic operation was observed in multiplication or division. The implication of these findings is discussed.
Project description:Different specific mechanisms have been suggested for solving single-digit arithmetic operations. However, the neural correlates underlying basic arithmetic (multiplication, addition, subtraction) are still under debate. In the present study, we systematically assessed single-digit arithmetic in a group of acute stroke patients (n = 45) with circumscribed left- or right-hemispheric brain lesions. Lesion sites significantly related to impaired performance were found only in the left-hemisphere damaged (LHD) group. Deficits in multiplication and addition were related to subcortical/white matter brain regions differing from those for subtraction tasks, corroborating the notion of distinct processing pathways for different arithmetic tasks. Additionally, our results further point to the importance of investigating fiber pathways in numerical cognition.
Project description:Some arithmetic procedures, such as addition of small numbers, rely on fact retrieval mechanisms supported by left hemisphere perisylvian language areas, while others, such as subtraction, rely on procedural-based mechanisms subserved by bilateral parietal cortices. Previous work suggests that developmental dyslexia, a reading disability, is accompanied by subtle deficits in retrieval-based arithmetic, possibly because of compromised left hemisphere function. To test this prediction, we compared brain activity underlying arithmetic problem solving in children with and without dyslexia during addition and subtraction operations using a factorial design. The main effect of arithmetic operation (addition versus subtraction) for both groups combined revealed activity during addition in the left superior temporal gyrus and activity during subtraction in the bilateral intraparietal sulcus, the right supramarginal gyrus and the anterior cingulate, consistent with prior studies. For the main effect of diagnostic group (dyslexics versus controls), we found less activity in dyslexic children in the left supramarginal gyrus. Finally, the interaction analysis revealed that while the control group showed a strong response in the right supramarginal gyrus for subtraction but not for addition, the dyslexic group engaged this region for both operations. This provides physiological evidence in support of the theory that children with dyslexia, because of disruption to left hemisphere language areas, use a less optimal route for retrieval-based arithmetic, engaging right hemisphere parietal regions typically used by good readers for procedural-based arithmetic. Our results highlight the importance of language processing for mathematical processing and illustrate that children with dyslexia have impairments that extend beyond reading.
Project description:Although behavioral studies show large improvements in arithmetic skills in elementary school, we do not know how brain structure supports math gains in typically developing children. While some correlational studies have investigated the concurrent association between math performance and brain structure, such as gray matter volume (GMV), longitudinal studies are needed to infer if there is a causal relation. Although discrepancies in the literature on the relation between GMV and math performance have been attributed to the different demands on quantity vs. retrieval mechanisms, no study has experimentally tested this assumption. We defined regions of interests (ROIs) associated with quantity representations in the bilateral intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and associated with the storage of arithmetic facts in long-term memory in the left middle and superior temporal gyri (MTG/STG), and studied associations between GMV in these ROIs and children's performance on operations having greater demands on quantity vs. retrieval mechanisms, namely subtraction vs. multiplication. The aims of this study were threefold: First, to study concurrent associations between GMV and math performance, second, to investigate the role of GMV at the first time-point (T1) in predicting longitudinal gains in math skill to the second time-point (T2), and third, to study whether changes in GMV over time were associated with gains in math skill. Results showed no concurrent association between GMV in IPS and math performance, but a concurrent association between GMV in left MTG/STG and multiplication skill at T1. This association showed that the higher the GMV in this ROI, the higher the children's multiplication skill. Results also revealed that GMV in left IPS and left MTG/STG predicted longitudinal gains in subtraction skill only for younger children (approximately 10 years old). Whereas higher levels of GMV in left IPS at T1 predicted larger subtraction gains, higher levels of GMV in left MTG/STG predicted smaller gains. GMV in left MTG/STG did not predict longitudinal gains in multiplication skill. No significant association was found between changes in GMV over time and longitudinal gains in math. Our findings support the early importance of brain structure in the IPS for mathematical skills that rely on quantity mechanisms.
Project description:<label>BACKGROUND</label>Arithmetic processing in adults is known to rely on a frontal-parietal network. However, neurocognitive research focusing on the neural and behavioral correlates of arithmetic development has been scarce, even though the acquisition of arithmetic skills is accompanied by changes within the fronto-parietal network of the developing brain. Furthermore, experimental procedures are typically adjusted to constraints of functional magnetic resonance imaging, which may not reflect natural settings in which children and adolescents actually perform arithmetic. Therefore, we investigated the longitudinal neurocognitive development of processes involved in performing the four basic arithmetic operations in 19 adolescents. By using functional near-infrared spectroscopy, we were able to use an ecologically valid task, i.e., a written production paradigm.<label>RESULTS</label>A common pattern of activation in the bilateral fronto-parietal network for arithmetic processing was found for all basic arithmetic operations. Moreover, evidence was obtained for decreasing activation during subtraction over the course of 1 year in middle and inferior frontal gyri, and increased activation during addition and multiplication in angular and middle temporal gyri. In the self-paced block design, parietal activation in multiplication and left angular and temporal activation in addition were observed to be higher for simple than for complex blocks, reflecting an inverse effect of arithmetic complexity.<label>CONCLUSIONS</label>In general, the findings suggest that the brain network for arithmetic processing is already established in 12-14 year-old adolescents, but still undergoes developmental changes.
Project description:Neurocognitive studies of arithmetic learning in adults have revealed decreasing brain activation in the fronto-parietal network, along with increasing activation of specific cortical and subcortical areas during learning. Both changes are associated with a shift from procedural to retrieval strategies for problem-solving. Here we address the critical, open question of whether similar neurocognitive changes are also evident in children. In this study, 20 typically developing children were trained to solve simple and complex multiplication problems. The one-session and two-week training effects were monitored using simultaneous functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and electroencephalography (EEG). FNIRS measurement after one session of training on complex multiplication problems revealed decreased activation at the left angular gyrus (AG), right superior parietal lobule, and right intraparietal sulcus. Two weeks of training led to decreased activation at the left AG and right middle frontal gyrus. For both simple and complex problems, we observed increased alpha power in EEG measurements as children worked on trained versus untrained problems. In line with previous multiplication training studies in adults, reduced activation within the fronto-parietal network was observed after training. Contrary to adults, we found that strategy shifts via arithmetic learning were not contingent on the activation of the left AG in children.