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Neuroimage. 2003 Jun;19(2 Pt 1):296-307.

Neural correlates underlying mental calculation in abacus experts: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study.

Author information

1
Human Brain Research Center, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto, Japan.

Abstract

Experts of abacus operation demonstrate extraordinary ability in mental calculation. There is psychological evidence that abacus experts utilize a mental image of an abacus to remember and manipulate large numbers in solving problems; however, the neural correlates underlying this expertise are unknown. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we compared the neural correlates associated with three mental-operation tasks (numeral, spatial, verbal) among six experts in abacus operations and eight nonexperts. In general, there was more involvement of neural correlates for visuospatial processing (e.g., right premotor and parietal areas) for abacus experts during the numeral mental-operation task. Activity of these areas and the fusiform cortex was correlated with the size of numerals used in the numeral mental-operation task. Particularly, the posterior superior parietal cortex revealed significantly enhanced activity for experts compared with controls during the numeral mental-operation task. Comparison with the other mental-operation tasks indicated that activity in the posterior superior parietal cortex was relatively specific to computation in 2-dimensional space. In conclusion, mental calculation of abacus experts is likely associated with enhanced involvement of the neural resources for visuospatial information processing in 2-dimensional space.

PMID:
12814580
DOI:
10.1016/s1053-8119(03)00050-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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