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Neural Representations of Absolute and Relative Magnitudes in Symbolic and Nonsymbolic Formats

Abstract : Humans differ from other animal species in their unique ability to use symbols to represent numerical information. This ability is thought to emerge from the “neural recycling” of mechanisms supporting nonsymbolic magnitudes in the intraparietal sulcus (IPS), a hypothesis that has been applied to both absolute magnitudes (e.g., whole numbers) and relative magnitudes (e.g., fractions). Yet, evidence for the neuronal recycling hypothesis is inconsistent for absolute magnitudes and scarce for relative magnitudes. Here, we investigated to what extent the neural representations of absolute and relative magnitudes in symbolic and nonsymbolic formats overlap in the IPS. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) adaptation design, 48 adult participants were sequentially presented with lines, whole numbers, line ratios, and fractions that varied (vs. not varied) in magnitudes. Univariate analyses showed that the extent to which IPS mechanisms associated with whole numbers relied on mechanisms associated with lines depended upon participants’ arithmetic fluency. Multivariate analyses revealed that the right IPS encoded differences in format (nonsymbolic vs. symbolic) across both absolute and relative magnitudes. Therefore, IPS activity associated with magnitude processing may depend on the presentation format (nonsymbolic vs. symbolic) more than it depends on the type of magnitude (absolute vs. relative), at least for most adult participants.
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Contributor : Jérôme Prado Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Thursday, August 11, 2022 - 6:38:45 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 24, 2022 - 3:04:06 PM


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Parnika Bhatia, Léa Longo, Hanna Chesnokova, Jérôme Prado. Neural Representations of Absolute and Relative Magnitudes in Symbolic and Nonsymbolic Formats. Cerebral Cortex, Oxford University Press (OUP), In press, ⟨10.1093/cercor/bhab513⟩. ⟨hal-03750178⟩



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