To retrieve or to calculate? Left angular gyrus mediates the retrieval of arithmetic facts during problem solving

Neuropsychologia. 2009 Jan;47(2):604-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.10.013. Epub 2008 Oct 21.


While there is consistent evidence from neuropsychological and brain imaging studies for an association between the left angular gyrus and mental arithmetic, its specific role in calculation has remained poorly understood. It has been speculated that the angular gyrus mediates the retrieval of arithmetic facts during problem solving, but this hypothesis has not been directly tested. In the present functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging study comprising 28 adults, we used trial-by-trial strategy self-reports to identify brain regions underpinning different strategies in arithmetic problem solving. Analyses revealed stronger activation of the left angular gyrus while solving arithmetic problems for which participants reported fact retrieval whereas the application of procedural strategies was accompanied by widespread activation in a fronto-parietal network. These data directly link the left angular gyrus with arithmetic fact retrieval and show that strategy self-reports can be used to predict differential patterns of brain activation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Problem Solving / physiology*
  • Young Adult