Recent studies in human neuroimaging, primate neurophysiology, and developmental neuropsychology indicate that the human ability for arithmetic has a tangible cerebral substrate. The human intraparietal sulcus is systematically activated in all number tasks and could host a central amodal representation of quantity. Areas of the precentral and inferior prefrontal cortex also activate when subjects engage in mental calculation. A monkey analogue of these parieto-frontal regions has recently been identified, and a neuronal population code for number has been characterized. Finally, pathologies of this system, leading to acalculia in adults or to developmental dyscalculia in children, are beginning to be understood, thus paving the way for brain-oriented intervention studies.
Arithmetic and the brain.
Dehaene S, Molko N, Cohen L, Wilson AJ.
Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2004 Apr;14(2):218-24.