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Poster F94

Crossroads in the learning brain: neural overlap between arithmetic and phonological processing

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Aymee Alvarez Rivero1 (, Lien Peters2, Daniel Ansari1; 1Western University, 2Ghent University

Despite the robust evidence about the associations between reading and math performance, the neural correlates of these abilities have been mostly studied in isolation. Previous studies suggest a neural mechanism for this link: brain areas that are involved in phonological decoding may also participate in arithmetic fact retrieval. However, only a few studies have explored both domains within the same participants. In the current study, we used both univariate and multivariate methods to explore the relationship between arithmetic (addition) and phonological processing in children and adults. Using a univariate conjunction analysis, we found clusters of significant overlap between both skills along the inferior frontal gyrus, the middle temporal gyrus and the cerebellum in adults; as well as multiple clusters along the frontal gyrus in children. Moreover, we hypothesized that the multivariate patterns of brain activity corresponding to small addition problems (typically solved using retrieval) should display a larger similarity to phonological decoding processes than large problems (typically solved using computations). But contrary to our expectations, we observed higher similarity between phonological processing and large problems than small problems. These results suggest that large problems may involve phonological processes to a higher extent. Alternatively, the observed overlap may result from a common reliance on general domain processes. In conclusion, our results confirm the existence of shared neural correlates between math and reading, especially along frontal and temporal circuits and grant the need for further research about the role of arithmetic strategies in this relationship.

Topic Area: OTHER


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April 13–16  |  2024