Researchers of the Jena University (Germany) and of the Jena University Hospital located an important region for the visual processing of numbers in the human brain and showed that it is active in both hemispheres. In the 'Journal of Neuroscience' the scientists published high resolution magnetic resonance recordings of this region. (DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2129-15.2016).
The human brain works with division of labour. Although our thinking organ excels in displaying amazing flexibility and plasticity, typically different areas of the brain take over different tasks. While words and language are mainly being processed in the left hemisphere, the right hemisphere is responsible for numerical reasoning.
According to previous findings, this division of labour originates from the fact that the first steps in the processing of letters and numbers are also located individually in the different hemispheres. But this is not the case, at least not when it comes to the visual processing of numbers.
Neuroscientists of the Friedrich Schiller University Jena and of the Jena University Hospital discovered that the visual processing of numbers takes place in a so-called 'visual number form area' (NFA) – in fact in both hemispheres alike. The Jena scientists were the first to publish high resolution magnetic resonance recordings showing the activity in this region of the brain of healthy test persons. The area is normally difficult to get access to.
In their study Dr. Mareike Grotheer and Prof. Dr. Gyula Kovács from the Institute for Psychology of Jena University as well as Dr. Karl-Heinz Herrmann from the Department of Radiology (IDIR) of the Jena University Hospital presented subjects with numbers, letters and pictures of everyday objects. Meanwhile the participants’ brain activity was recorded using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Thus the researchers were able to clearly identify the region in which the visual processing of numbers takes place. The small area at the underside of the left and right temporal lobe reacted with increased activity at the presentation of numbers. Letters and other images but also false numbers lead to a significantly lower brain activity in this area.
Although the Jena team already knew from other scientists' previous research where they had to look for the area, a lot of developmental work went into the newly published story. “This region has been a kind of blind spot in the human brain until now,“ Mareike Grotheer says. And here is why: Hidden underneath the ear and the acoustic meatus, surrounded by bone and air, previous MRI scans showed a number of artefacts and thus obstructed detailed research.
For their study the Jena scientists used a high-performance 3 tesla MRI scanner of the Institute of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology (IDIR) of the Jena University Hospital. They recorded three-dimensional images of the brain of the test subjects at an unusually high spatial resolution and hence with only very few artefacts.
In addition these recordings were spatially smoothed whereby the remaining 'white noise' could be removed. This approach will help other scientists to investigate a part of the brain that until now had been nearly inaccessible. “In this region not only numbers are being processed but also faces and objects,“ Prof. Kovács states.
Grotheer M, Herrmann KH, and Kovács G.: Neuroimaging Evidence of a Bilateral Representation for Visually Presented Numbers, The Journal of Neuroscience 2016, 36(1): 88-97, DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2129-15.2016
Prof. Dr. Gyula Kovács, Dr. Mareike Grotheer
Institute of Psychology
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Leutragraben 1, 07743 Jena
Phone: ++49 3641 / 945936, ++49 3641 / 45983
Email: gyula.kovacs[at]uni-jena.de, mareike.grotheer[at]uni-jena.de
Dr. Ute Schönfelder | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Bolstering fat cells offers potential new leukemia treatment
17.10.2017 | McMaster University
Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes
17.10.2017 | King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST)
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Life Sciences
17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences