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Curr Biol. 2007 Apr 17;17(8):689-93. Epub 2007 Mar 22.

Virtual dyscalculia induced by parietal-lobe TMS impairs automatic magnitude processing.

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  • 1Department of Behavioral Sciences and Zlotowski Center for Neuroscience, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva 84105, Israel.


People suffering from developmental dyscalculia encounter difficulties in automatically accessing numerical magnitudes [1-3]. For example, when instructed to attend to the physical size of a number while ignoring its numerical value, dyscalculic subjects, unlike healthy participants, fail to process the irrelevant dimension automatically and subsequently show a smaller size-congruity effect (difference in reaction time between incongruent [e.g., a physically large 2 and a physically small 4] and congruent [e.g., a physically small 2 and a physically large 4] conditions), and no facilitation (neutral [e.g., a physically small 2 and a physically large 2] versus congruent) [3]. Previous imaging studies determined the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) as a central area for numerical processing [4-11]. A few studies tried to identify the brain dysfunction underlying developmental dyscalculia but yielded mixed results regarding the involvement of the left [12] or the right [13] IPS. Here we applied fMRI-guided TMS neuronavigation to disrupt left- or right-IPS activation clusters in order to induce dyscalculic-like behavioral deficits in healthy volunteers. Automatic magnitude processing was impaired only during disruption of right-IPS activity. When using the identical paradigm with dyscalculic participants, we reproduced a result pattern similar to that obtained with nondyscalculic volunteers during right-IPS disruption. These findings provide direct evidence for the functional role of right IPS in automatic magnitude processing.

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