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Cereb Cortex. 2017 Jan 1;27(1):567-575. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv250.

Electrophysiological Responses in the Ventral Temporal Cortex During Reading of Numerals and Calculation.

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Laboratory of Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology, Stanford Human Intracranial Cognitive Electrophysiology Program (SHICEP), Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences.
Department of Psychology.
Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit, Institute National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, U992, 91191 Gif/Yvette, France.
Neuroscience PhD Program, Istanbul University, Istanbul, Turkey.
Department of Neurosurgery, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA.


Recent evidence suggests that specific neuronal populations in the ventral temporal cortex show larger electrophysiological responses to visual numerals compared with morphologically similar stimuli. This study investigates how these responses change from simple reading of numerals to the active use of numerals in an arithmetic context. We recorded high-frequency broadband (HFB) signals, a reliable measure for local neuronal population activity, while 10 epilepsy patients implanted with subdural electrodes performed separate numeral reading and calculation tasks. We found that calculation increased activity in the posterior inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) with a factor of approximately 1.5 over the first 500 ms of calculation, whereas no such increase was noted for reading numerals without calculation or reading and judging memory statements. In a second experiment conducted in 2 of the same subjects, we show that HFB responses increase in a systematic manner when the single numerals were presented successively in a calculation context: The HFB response in the ITG, to the second and third numerals (i.e., b and c in a + b = c), was approximately 1.5 times larger than the responses to the first numeral (a). These results provide electrophysiological evidence for modulation of local neuronal population responses to visual stimuli based on increasing task demands.


calculation; electrocorticography; higher-order vision; number processing

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