OPUSeJ reference number: OPUSeJ 201301061634WMA
Title: Why Mental Arithmetic Counts: Brain activation during single digit arithmetic predicts high-school math scores
Authors: Gavin Price, Michele Mazzocco, Daniel Ansari,
Abstract: Do individual differences in the brain mechanisms for arithmetic underlie variability in high-school mathematical competence? Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we correlated brain responses to single digit calculation with standard scores on the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT) math subtest in high-school seniors. PSAT math scores, while controlling for PSAT Critical Reading scores, correlated positively with calculation activation in the left supramarginal gyrus and bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, brain regions known to be engaged during arithmetic fact retrieval. At the same time, greater activation in the right intraparietal sulcus (IPS) during calculation, a region established to be involved in numerical quantity processing, was related to lower PSAT math scores. These data reveal that the relative engagement of brain mechanisms associated with procedural versus memory-based calculation of single-digit arithmetic problems is related to high-school level mathematical competence, highlighting the fundamental role that mental arithmetic fluency plays the acquisition of higherlevel mathematical competence.
Author bio: G R. Price at the time of this study was at the Numerical Cognition Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada and is currently at the Department of Psychology & Human Development, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.
D Ansari iat the time of this study was at the Numerical Cognition Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada and is currently Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Department of Psychology, Brain and Mind Institute, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.
M M M Mazzocco at the time of this study was at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and School of Education, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and is currently at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota.
Affiliations/disclaimers/funding/acknowledgements: Western University, London, Ontario, Canada and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. The authors declare no competing financial interests. This research was supported by funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canada Research Chairs Program (CRC) to DA, and Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (OMRI) Postdoctoral Fellowship to GRP. The authors would like to thank Carolyn Ahart who oversaw efforts to obtain the PSAT data, Kate Semeniak for assistance with collection of behavioral data, and Bea Goffin for proof reading the manuscript.
Subject: Science/neuroscience and Education/math aptitude
Keywords: functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT), arithmetic, left supramarginal gyrus, bilateral anterior cingulate cortex, right intraparietal sulcus, brain, mathematical competence.
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1) Price, GR , Mazzocco, MMM & Ansari, D, 2013, “Why Mental Arithmetic Counts: Brain Activation during Single Digit Arithmetic Predicts High School Math Scores”, The Journal for Neuroscience 33:1, 156-163. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2936-12.2013.http://www.jneurosci.org/content/33/1/156.full.