London: The human brain does the number crunching for you in its entirety, taking help from both hemispheres, and not individually as previously thought, researchers report.
According to neuroscientists from Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Jena University Hospital, the visual processing of numbers takes place in a so-called “visual number form area” (NFA) in both hemispheres alike.
It is generally thought that while words and language are mainly being processed in the left hemisphere, the right hemisphere is responsible for numerical reasoning.
According to previous findings, this division of labour originates from the fact that the first steps in the processing of letters and numbers are also located individually in the different hemispheres.
But this is not the case, at least not when it comes to the visual processing of numbers, the team said in a university statement.
In their study, Dr Mareike Grotheer, Professor Dr Gyula Kovács and Dr Karl-Heinz Herrmann presented participants with numbers, letters and pictures of everyday objects.
The participants’ brain activity was recorded using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
The researchers were able to clearly identify the region in which the visual processing of numbers takes place.
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The small area at the underside of the left and right temporal lobe reacted with increased activity at the presentation of numbers. Letters and other images but also false numbers led to a significantly lower brain activity in this area.
“This region has been a kind of blind spot in the human brain until now,” Grotheer said.
The team recorded 3D images of the brain of the participants at an unusually high resolution.
“In this region not only numbers are being processed but also faces and objects,” Kovács said.