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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Mar 1;102(9):3519-24. Epub 2005 Feb 15.

Agrammatic but numerate.

Author information

  • 1Department of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TA, United Kingdom. r.a.varley@sheffield.ac.uk

Abstract

A central question in cognitive neuroscience concerns the extent to which language enables other higher cognitive functions. In the case of mathematics, the resources of the language faculty, both lexical and syntactic, have been claimed to be important for exact calculation, and some functional brain imaging studies have shown that calculation is associated with activation of a network of left-hemisphere language regions, such as the angular gyrus and the banks of the intraparietal sulcus. We investigate the integrity of mathematical calculations in three men with large left-hemisphere perisylvian lesions. Despite severe grammatical impairment and some difficulty in processing phonological and orthographic number words, all basic computational procedures were intact across patients. All three patients solved mathematical problems involving recursiveness and structure-dependent operations (for example, in generating solutions to bracket equations). To our knowledge, these results demonstrate for the first time the remarkable independence of mathematical calculations from language grammar in the mature cognitive system.

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PMID:
15713804
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC552916
Free PMC Article

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