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Agrammatic but numerate

By R.A. Varley, N.J.C. Klessinger, C.A.J. Romanowski and M. Siegal

Abstract

A central question in cognitive neuroscience concerns the extent to\ud which language enables other higher cognitive functions. In the\ud case of mathematics, the resources of the language faculty, both\ud lexical and syntactic, have been claimed to be important for exact\ud calculation, and some functional brain imaging studies have shown\ud that calculation is associated with activation of a network of\ud left-hemisphere language regions, such as the angular gyrus and\ud the banks of the intraparietal sulcus. We investigate the integrity\ud of mathematical calculations in three men with large left-hemisphere\ud perisylvian lesions. Despite severe grammatical impairment\ud and some difficulty in processing phonological and orthographic\ud number words, all basic computational procedures were intact\ud across patients. All three patients solved mathematical problems\ud involving recursiveness and structure-dependent operations (for\ud example, in generating solutions to bracket equations). To our\ud knowledge, these results demonstrate for the first time the remarkable\ud independence of mathematical calculations from language\ud grammar in the mature cognitive system

Year: 2005
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:337

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