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      Contributions of functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to the Study of Numerical Cognition

      research-article
      a , b , * , a ,
      Journal of Numerical Cognition
      PsychOpen
      fMRI, neuroimaging, numerical cognition, mathematics, dyscalculia, development, brain

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          Abstract

          Using neuroimaging as a lens through which to understand numerical and mathematical cognition has provided both a different and complementary level of analysis to the broader behavioural literature. In particular, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has contributed to our understanding of numerical and mathematical processing by testing and expanding existing psychological theories, creating novel hypotheses, and providing converging evidence with behavioural findings. There now exist several examples where fMRI has provided unique insights into the cognitive underpinnings of basic number processing, arithmetic, and higher-level mathematics. In this review, we discuss how fMRI has contributed to five critical questions in the field including: 1) the relationship between symbolic and nonsymbolic processing; 2) whether arithmetic skills are rooted in an understanding of basic numerical concepts; 3) the role of arithmetic strategies in the development of arithmetic skills; 4) whether basic numerical concepts scaffold higher-level mathematical skills; and 5) the neurobiological origins of developmental dyscalculia. In each of these areas, we review how the fMRI literature has both complemented and pushed the boundaries of our knowledge on these central theoretical issues. Finally, we discuss limitations of current approaches and future directions that will hopefully lead to even greater contributions of neuroimaging to our understanding of numerical cognition.

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          Power failure: why small sample size undermines the reliability of neuroscience.

          A study with low statistical power has a reduced chance of detecting a true effect, but it is less well appreciated that low power also reduces the likelihood that a statistically significant result reflects a true effect. Here, we show that the average statistical power of studies in the neurosciences is very low. The consequences of this include overestimates of effect size and low reproducibility of results. There are also ethical dimensions to this problem, as unreliable research is inefficient and wasteful. Improving reproducibility in neuroscience is a key priority and requires attention to well-established but often ignored methodological principles.
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            The Angular Gyrus

            There is considerable interest in the structural and functional properties of the angular gyrus (AG). Located in the posterior part of the inferior parietal lobule, the AG has been shown in numerous meta-analysis reviews to be consistently activated in a variety of tasks. This review discusses the involvement of the AG in semantic processing, word reading and comprehension, number processing, default mode network, memory retrieval, attention and spatial cognition, reasoning, and social cognition. This large functional neuroimaging literature depicts a major role for the AG in processing concepts rather than percepts when interfacing perception-to-recognition-to-action. More specifically, the AG emerges as a cross-modal hub where converging multisensory information is combined and integrated to comprehend and give sense to events, manipulate mental representations, solve familiar problems, and reorient attention to relevant information. In addition, this review discusses recent findings that point to the existence of multiple subdivisions in the AG. This spatial parcellation can serve as a framework for reporting AG activations with greater definition. This review also acknowledges that the role of the AG cannot comprehensibly be identified in isolation but needs to be understood in parallel with the influence from other regions. Several interesting questions that warrant further investigations are finally emphasized.
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              Is 2+2=4? Meta-analyses of brain areas needed for numbers and calculations.

              Most of us use numbers daily for counting, estimating quantities or formal mathematics, yet despite their importance our understanding of the brain correlates of these processes is still evolving. A neurofunctional model of mental arithmetic, proposed more than a decade ago, stimulated a substantial body of research in this area. Using quantitative meta-analyses of fMRI studies we identified brain regions concordant among studies that used number and calculation tasks. These tasks elicited activity in a set of common regions such as the inferior parietal lobule; however, the regions in which they differed were most notable, such as distinct areas of prefrontal cortices for specific arithmetic operations. Given the current knowledge, we propose an updated topographical brain atlas of mental arithmetic with improved interpretative power. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                JNC
                J Numer Cogn
                Journal of Numerical Cognition
                J. Numer. Cogn.
                PsychOpen
                2363-8761
                21 December 2018
                2018
                : 4
                : 3
                : 505-525
                Affiliations
                [a ]Numerical Cognition Laboratory, Department of Psychology and Brain & Mind Institute, University of Western Ontario , London, ON, Canada
                [b ]Center for the Study of Learning, Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University , Washington, DC, USA
                Author notes
                [* ]Numerical Cognition Laboratory, Department of Psychology and Brain & Mind Institute, The University of Western Ontario, Western Interdisciplinary Research Building, Room 5180, 1151 Richmond Street North, London, ON, Canada, N6A 5B7. daniel.ansari@ 123456uwo.ca
                Article
                jnc.v4i3.136
                10.5964/jnc.v4i3.136
                7f17eceb-c6a0-49b5-81d8-f2cfcbdcde79
                Copyright @ 2018

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) 4.0 License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                History
                : 21 June 2017
                : 28 March 2018
                Categories
                Theoretical Contributions

                Psychology
                brain,development,dyscalculia,mathematics,numerical cognition,neuroimaging,fMRI
                Psychology
                brain, development, dyscalculia, mathematics, numerical cognition, neuroimaging, fMRI

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