A supramodal number representation in human intraparietal cortex

Neuron. 2003 Feb 20;37(4):719-25. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00036-9.


The triple-code theory of numerical processing postulates an abstract-semantic "number sense." Neuropsychology points to intraparietal cortex as a potential substrate, but previous functional neuroimaging studies did not dissociate the representation of numerical magnitude from task-driven effects on intraparietal activation. In an event-related fMRI study, we presented numbers, letters, and colors in the visual and auditory modality, asking subjects to respond to target items within each category. In the absence of explicit magnitude processing, numbers compared with letters and colors across modalities activated a bilateral region in the horizontal intraparietal sulcus. This stimulus-driven number-specific intraparietal response supports the idea of a supramodal number representation that is automatically accessed by presentation of numbers and may code magnitude information.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Choice Behavior / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Color
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology