The left intraparietal sulcus adapts to symbolic number in both the visual and auditory modalities: Evidence from fMRI

Vogel, S. E., Goffin, C., Bohnenberger, J., Koschutnig, K., Reishofer, G., Grabner, R. H., & Ansari, D. (2017). The left intraparietal sulcus adapts to symbolic number in both the visual and auditory modalities: Evidence from fMRI. NeuroImage, 153, 16-27.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.03.048

HIGHLIGHTS / FAITS SAILLANTS

  • Habituating the brain to numbers yields a numerical ratio dependent signal recovery.
  • Both visual and auditory symbolic number processing is associated with the left IPS.
  • The neural signal recovery response to numbers is highly specific and reproducible.

ABSTRACT

A growing body of evidence from functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging adaptation (fMRIa) has implicated the left intraparietal sulcus (IPS) as a crucial brain region representing the semantic of number symbols. However, it is currently unknown to what extent the left IPS brain activity can be generalized across modalities (e.g., Arabic digits and spoken number words) and how robust and reproducible numerical adaptation effects are.

In two separate fMRIa experiments we habituated the brain response of 20 native English-speaking (Experiment 1) and 34 native German-speaking (Experiment 2) adults to Arabic digits or spoken number words. Consistent with previous findings, experiment 1 revealed numerical ratio dependent adaptation to Arabic numerals in the left IPS using both conventional and cortex-based alignment techniques. Experiment 2 revealed numerical ratio dependent signal recovery in the left IPS following adaptation to both Arabic numerals and spoken number words using both conventional and cortex-based alignment techniques. Together, these findings suggest that the left IPS is involved in symbolic number processing across modalities.

Keywords
Number representation; fMRI adaptation; Intraparietal sulcus (IPS); Number words; Numerical ratio; Arabic numerals