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Cereb Cortex. 2009 Dec;19(12):2930-45. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhp063. Epub 2009 Apr 30.

Functional heterogeneity of inferior parietal cortex during mathematical cognition assessed with cytoarchitectonic probability maps.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


Although the inferior parietal cortex (IPC) has been consistently implicated in mathematical cognition, the functional roles of its subdivisions are poorly understood. We address this problem using probabilistic cytoarchitectonic maps of IPC subdivisions intraparietal sulcus (IPS), angular gyrus (AG), and supramarginal gyrus. We quantified IPC responses relative to task difficulty and individual differences in task proficiency during mental arithmetic (MA) tasks performed with Arabic (MA-A) and Roman (MA-R) numerals. The 2 tasks showed similar levels of activation in 3 distinct IPS areas, hIP1, hIP2, and hIP3, suggesting their obligatory role in MA. Both AG areas, PGa and PGp, were strongly deactivated in both tasks, with stronger deactivations in posterior area PGp. Compared with the more difficult MA-R task, the MA-A task showed greater responses in both AG areas, but this effect was driven by less deactivation in the MA-A task. AG deactivations showed prominent overlap with lateral parietal nodes of the default mode network, suggesting a nonspecific role in MA. In both tasks, greater bilateral AG deactivation was associated with poorer performance. Our findings suggest a close link between IPC structure and function and they provide new evidence for behaviorally salient functional heterogeneity within the IPC during mathematical cognition.

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