Magnetoencephalography reveals differences in brain activations for fast and slow responses to simple multiplications

Giorgio Arcara, Rachele Pezzetta, S. Benavides-Varela, G. Rizzi, S. Formica, C. Turco, F. Piccione, C. Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite decades of studies, it is still an open question on how and where simple multiplications are solved by the brain. This fragmented picture is mostly related to the different tasks employed. While in neuropsychological studies patients are asked to perform and report simple oral calculations, neuroimaging and neurophysiological studies often use verification tasks, in which the result is shown, and the participant must verify the correctness. This MEG study aims to unify the sources of evidence, investigating how brain activation unfolds in time using a single-digit multiplication production task. We compared the participants' brain activity—focusing on the parietal lobes—based on response efficiency, dividing their responses in fast and slow. Results showed higher activation for fast, as compared to slow, responses in the left angular gyrus starting after the first operand, and in the right supramarginal gyrus only after the second operand. A whole-brain analysis showed that fast responses had higher activation in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. We show a timing difference of both hemispheres during simple multiplications. Results suggest that while the left parietal lobe may allow an initial retrieval of several possible solutions, the right one may be engaged later, helping to identify the solution based on magnitude checking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20296
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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