Dissociating Response Conflict from Numerical Magnitude Processing in the Brain: An Event-Related fMRI Study

NeuroImage 32 (2006) 799 – 805

Fox School of Business Research Paper

7 Pages Posted: 14 May 2014

See all articles by Daniel Ansari

Daniel Ansari

Dartmouth College - Dept. of Education

Jonathan Fugelsang

University of Waterloo - Department of Psychology

Bibek Dhital

Dartmouth College - Dept. of Education

Vinod Venkatraman

Temple University - Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Date Written: December 22, 2006

Abstract

Functional neuroimaging studies of numerical cognition have repeatedly associated activation of the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) with number processing. During number comparison, the IPS has been found to be modulated by the numerical distance. This has lead to the contention that the IPS houses the internal representation of numerical magnitude. However, this theory has been challenged by the argument that IPS activation may reflect domain-general response selection. In the present study, we used the numerical size congruity paradigm to further elucidate the role played by the IPS in number comparison. In an event-related, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, participants judged which of two number words was numerically larger. In addition to the numerical distance, physical stimulus size was varied such that physical size and numerical magnitude were either (a) congruent (e.g., numerically smaller number printed in smaller font) or (b) incongruent (e.g., numerically larger number printed in smaller font). This allowed for the study of both the main effects and the interaction of numerical distance and stimulus congruency. A main effect of numerical distance was found in bilateral regions of the IPS. However, these parietal areas were not significantly modulated by congruency or the interaction of distance and congruency. Instead, the main effect of congruency and an interaction of distance and congruency were observed in anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortices. These findings suggest some degree of independence between the processing of numerical distance and size congruity, lending support for the hypothesis that distance effects in IPS reflect the underlying representation of numerical magnitude.

Keywords: Size congruity, Distance effect, Intraparietal sulcus, Conflict, Numerical cognition

Suggested Citation

Ansari, Daniel and Fugelsang, Jonathan and Dhital, Bibek and Venkatraman, Vinod, Dissociating Response Conflict from Numerical Magnitude Processing in the Brain: An Event-Related fMRI Study (December 22, 2006). NeuroImage 32 (2006) 799 – 805; Fox School of Business Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2430388

Daniel Ansari (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Dept. of Education ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Jonathan Fugelsang

University of Waterloo - Department of Psychology

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

Bibek Dhital

Dartmouth College - Dept. of Education

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

Vinod Venkatraman

Temple University - Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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