Castaldi, E., Vignaud, A., & Eger, E.

Mapping subcomponents of numerical cognition in relation to functional and anatomical landmarks of human parietal cortex

NeuroImage, 221, 117210

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117210 Download

Human functional imaging has identified the middle part of the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) as an important brain substrate for different types of numerical tasks. This area is often equated with the macaque ventral intraparietal area (VIP) where neuronal selectivity for non-symbolic numerical stimuli (sets of items) is found. However, the low spatial resolution and whole-brain averaging analysis performed in most fMRI studies limit the extent to which an exact correspondence of activations in different numerical tasks with specific sub-regions of the IPS can be established. Here we acquired high-resolution 7T fMRI data in a group of human adults and related the activations in several numerical contrasts (implying different numerical stimuli and tasks) to anatomical and functional landmarks on the cortical surface. Our results reveal a functional heterogeneity within human intraparietal cortex where the retinotopic visual field maps in superior/medial parts of the IPS and superior parietal gyrus respond preferentially to the visual processing of concrete sets of items (over single Arabic numerals), whereas lateral/inferior parts of the IPS are predominantly recruited during numerical operations such as calculation and quantitative comparison. Since calculation and comparison-related activity fell mainly outside the retinotopic visual field maps considered the human functional equivalent of the monkey VIP/LIP complex, the areas most activated during such numerical operations in humans are likely different from VIP.