Cognitive inhibition of number/length interference in a Piaget-like task: evidence by combining ERP and MEG

Clin Neurophysiol. 2009 Aug;120(8):1501-13. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2009.06.003. Epub 2009 Jul 2.


Objective: We combined event-related potential (ERP) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) acquisition and analysis to investigate the electrophysiological markers of the inhibitory processes involved in the number/length interference in a Piaget-like numerical task.

Methods: Eleven healthy subjects performed four gradually interfering conditions with the heuristic "length equals number" to be inhibited. Low resolution tomography reconstruction was performed on the combined grand averaged electromagnetic data at the early (N1, P1) and late (P2, N2, P3(early) and P3(late)) latencies. Every condition was analyzed at both scalp and regional brain levels.

Results: The inhibitory processes were visible on the late components of the electromagnetic brain activity. A right P2-related frontal orbital activation reflected the change of strategy in the inhibitory processes. N2-related SMA/cingulate activation revealed the first occurrence of the stimuli processing to be inhibited. Both P3 components revealed the working memory processes operating in a medial temporal complex and the mental imagery processes subtended by the precuneus.

Conclusions: Simultaneous ERP and MEG signal acquisition and analysis allowed to describe the spatiotemporal patterns of neural networks involved in the inhibition of the "length equals number" interference.

Significance: Combining ERP and MEG ensured a sensitivity which could be reached previously only through invasive intracortical recordings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Magnetoencephalography*
  • Male
  • Mathematics*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Young Adult