Language and calculation within the parietal lobe: a combined cognitive, anatomical and fMRI study

Neuropsychologia. 2000;38(10):1426-40. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(00)00038-5.


We report the case of a patient (ATH) who suffered from aphasia, deep dyslexia, and acalculia, following a lesion in her left perisylvian area. She showed a severe impairment in all tasks involving numbers in a verbal format, such as reading aloud, writing to dictation, or responding verbally to questions of numerical knowledge. In contrast, her ability to manipulate non-verbal representations of numbers, i.e., Arabic numerals and quantities, was comparatively well preserved, as evidenced for instance in number comparison or number bisection tasks. This dissociated impairment of verbal and non-verbal numerical abilities entailed a differential impairment of the four arithmetic operations. ATH performed much better with subtraction and addition, that can be solved on the basis of quantity manipulation, than with multiplication and division problems, that are commonly solved by retrieving stored verbal sequences. The brain lesion affected the classical language areas, but spared a subset of the left inferior parietal lobule that was active during calculation tasks, as demonstrated with functional MRI. Finally, the relative preservation of subtraction versus multiplication may be related to the fact that subtraction activated the intact right parietal lobe, while multiplication activated predominantly left-sided areas.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / etiology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Infarction / complications*
  • Cerebral Infarction / physiopathology
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology
  • Dyslexia, Acquired / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Language Disorders / etiology
  • Language Disorders / physiopathology
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mathematics
  • Mental Processes
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe / pathology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiopathology*