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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

November 2006, Vol. 18, No. 11, Pages 1820-1828
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2006.18.11.1820)
© 2006 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Age-related Changes in the Activation of the Intraparietal Sulcus during Nonsymbolic Magnitude Processing: An Event-related Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study
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Numerical magnitude processing is an essential everyday skill. Functional brain imaging studies with human adults have repeatedly revealed that bilateral regions of the intraparietal sulcus are correlated with various numerical and mathematical skills. Surprisingly little, however, is known about the development of these brain representations. In the present study, we used functional neuroimaging to compare the neural correlates of nonsymbolic magnitude judgments between children and adults. Although behavioral performance was similar across groups, in comparison to the group of children the adult participants exhibited greater effects of numerical distance on the left intraparietal sulcus. Our findings are the first to reveal that even the most basic aspects of numerical cognition are subject to age-related changes in functional neuroanatomy. We propose that developmental impairments of number may be associated with atypical specialization of cortical regions underlying magnitude processing.