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Nat Commun. 2019 Aug 15;10(1):3675. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-11424-1.

Separate lanes for adding and reading in the white matter highways of the human brain.

Author information

1
Psychology Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA. grotheer@stanford.edu.
2
Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, 100875, China.
3
Psychology Department, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA.
4
BCBL. Basque Center on Cognition, Brain and Language, Mikeletegi Pasealekua 69, Donostia - San Sebastián, 20009, Gipuzkoa, Spain.
5
Stanford Neurosciences Institute, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA.

Abstract

Math and reading involve distributed brain networks and have both shared (e.g. encoding of visual stimuli) and dissociated (e.g. quantity processing) cognitive components. Yet, to date, the shared vs. dissociated gray and white matter substrates of the math and reading networks are unknown. Here, we define these networks and evaluate the structural properties of their fascicles using functional MRI, diffusion MRI, and quantitative MRI. Our results reveal that there are distinct gray matter regions which are preferentially engaged in either math (adding) or reading, and that the superior longitudinal and arcuate fascicles are shared across the math and reading networks. Strikingly, within these fascicles, reading- and math-related tracts are segregated into parallel sub-bundles and show structural differences related to myelination. These findings open a new avenue of research that examines the contribution of sub-bundles within fascicles to specific behaviors.

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