Neuro-anatomical correlates of a number bisection bias: A neuropsychological voxel-based morphometry study.
Woodbridge R., Chechlacz M., Humphreys GW., Demeyere N.
The number bisection tasks, whereby participants estimate the midpoint of a given number interval, is frequently used to explore the idea that numbers are spatially represented within the brain across a 'mental number line'. Some neuropsychological research supports the argument that number bisection is a spatial task, recruiting parietal brain regions, whereas other data suggest that number bisection is dissociable from spatial processing and is instead dependent on working memory in the prefrontal cortices. This study explored the anatomical correlates of deficits in the number bisection task, using voxel-based morphometry in a sample of 25 neuropsychological patients with both left and right hemisphere damage. Interestingly, impairments in number bisection were strongly associated with grey matter lesions in the left hemisphere including both frontal and prefrontal cortices, extending to inferior parietal cortex. Similar prefrontal and frontal grey matter areas were found to be associated with increased leftward deviations (underestimations of the midpoint), whereas no suprathreshold clusters were observed for rightward deviations from the midpoint. Analysis of white matter integrity revealed that lesions in the tracts connecting the parietal and frontal cortices (i.e. the superior longitudinal fasciculus) were highly associated with leftward deviation impairments in number bisection. The data suggest that there is a common parieto-frontal number processing network underlying performances on number bisection, with larger numbers represented on the left side.