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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2005 Oct;25(2):583-7. Epub 2005 Sep 16.

Mathematically gifted male adolescents activate a unique brain network during mental rotation.

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Department of Human Development and Family Studies, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 74909-1162, USA.


Mental rotation involves the creation and manipulation of internal images, with the later being particularly useful cognitive capacities when applied to high-level mathematical thinking and reasoning. Many neuroimaging studies have demonstrated mental rotation to be mediated primarily by the parietal lobes, particularly on the right side. Here, we use fMRI to show for the first time that when performing 3-dimensional mental rotations, mathematically gifted male adolescents engage a qualitatively different brain network than those of average math ability, one that involves bilateral activation of the parietal lobes and frontal cortex, along with heightened activation of the anterior cingulate. Reliance on the processing characteristics of this uniquely bilateral system and the interplay of these anterior/posterior regions may be contributors to their mathematical precocity.

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