The zero effect: voxel-based lesion symptom mapping of number transcoding errors following stroke.
Haupt M., Gillebert CR., Demeyere N.
Zero represents a special case in our numerical system because it is not represented on a semantic level. Former research has shown that this can lead to specific impairments when transcoding numerals from dictation to written digits. Even though, number processing is considered to be dominated by the left hemisphere, studies have indicated that both left as well as right hemispheric stroke patients commit errors when transcoding numerals including zeros. Here, for the first time, a large sample of subacute stroke patients (N = 667) was assessed without being preselected based on the location of their lesion, or a specific impairment in transcoding zero. The results show that specific errors in transcoding zeros were common (prevalence = 14.2%) and a voxel-based lesion symptom mapping analysis (n = 153) revealed these to be related to lesions in and around the right putamen. In line with former research, the present study argues that the widespread brain network for number processing also includes subcortical regions, like the putamen with connections to the insular cortex. These play a crucial role in auditory perception as well as attention. If these areas are lesioned, number processing tasks with higher attentional and working memory loads, like transcoding zeros, can be impaired.