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Comparative Study
, 16 (16), 1769-73

Neural Correlates of Symbolic Number Processing in Children and Adults

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Comparative Study

Neural Correlates of Symbolic Number Processing in Children and Adults

Daniel Ansari et al. Neuroreport.

Abstract

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we examined developmental differences in the functional neuroanatomy underlying symbolic number processing. Twelve adults and 12 children had to judge the relative magnitude of two single-digit Arabic numerals. We investigated which brain areas were significantly (P<0.005, uncorrected) more activated during processing of number pairs with small relative to large numerical distances. In the adult group, symbolic distance modulated bilateral parietal regions. In contrast, the group of children primarily engaged frontal regions. We conclude that the functional neuroanatomy underlying symbolic numerical magnitude processing undergoes an ontogenetic shift towards greater parietal engagement. This change may reflect maturation of underlying representations and increasing automaticity in mapping between numerical symbols and the magnitudes they represent.

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