Scientific article

Discriminability of numerosity-evoked fMRI activity patterns in human intra-parietal cortex reflects behavioral numerical acuity

Published inCortex, vol. 114, p. 90-101
Publication date2019

Areas of the primate intraparietal cortex have been identified as an important substrate of numerical cognition. In human fMRI studies, activity patterns in these and other areas have allowed researchers to read out the numerosity a subject is viewing, but the relation of such decodable information with behavioral numerical proficiency remains unknown. Here, we estimated the precision of behavioral numerosity discrimination (internal Weber fraction) in twelve adult subjects based on psychophysical testing in a delayed numerosity comparison task outside the scanner. FMRI data were then recorded during a similar task, to obtain the accuracy with which the same sample numerosities could be read out from evoked brain activity patterns, as a measure of the precision of the neuronal representation. Sample numerosities were decodable in both early visual and intra-parietal cortex with approximately equal accuracy on average. In parietal cortex, smaller numerosities were better discriminated than larger numerosities of the same ratio, paralleling smaller behavioral Weber fractions for smaller numerosities. Furthermore, in parietal but not early visual cortex, fMRI decoding performance was correlated with behavioral number discrimination acuity across subjects (subjects with a more precise behavioral Weber fraction measured prior to scanning showed greater discriminability of fMRI activity patterns in intraparietal cortex, and more specifically, the right LIP region). These results suggest a crucial role for intra-parietal cortex in supporting a numerical representation which is explicitly read out for numerical decisions and behavior.

  • FMRI
  • Parietal cortex
  • Number processing
  • Multivariate decoding
  • Human
Citation (ISO format)
LASNE, Gabriel et al. Discriminability of numerosity-evoked fMRI activity patterns in human intra-parietal cortex reflects behavioral numerical acuity. In: Cortex, 2019, vol. 114, p. 90–101. doi: 10.1016/j.cortex.2018.03.008
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal0010-9452

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