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Title: The neural representation of Arabic digits in visual cortex
Authors: Peters, Lien ×
De Smedt, Bert
Op de Beeck, Hans #
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
Series Title: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience vol:9
Article number: 517
Abstract: In this study, we investigated how Arabic digits are represented in the visual cortex,
and how their representation changes throughout the ventral visual processing stream,
compared to the representation of letters.We probed these questions with two functional
magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments. In Experiment 1, we explored whether
we could find brain regions that were more activated for digits than for number words
in a subtraction task. One such region was detected in lateral occipital cortex. However,
the activity in this region might have been confounded by string length—number words
contain more characters than digits. We therefore conducted a second experiment
in which string length was systematically controlled. Experiment 2 revealed that the
findings of the first experiment were task dependent (as it was only observed in a task
in which numerosity was relevant) or stimulus dependent (as it was only observed when
the number of characters of a stimulus was not controlled). We further explored the
characteristics of the activation patterns for digit and letter strings across the ventral
visual processing stream through multi-voxel pattern analyses. We found an alteration
in representations throughout the ventral processing stream from clustering based on
amount of visual information in primary visual cortex (V1) towards clustering based on
symbolic stimulus category higher in the visual hierarchy. The present findings converge
to the conclusion that in the ventral visual system, as far as can be detected with
fMRI, the distinction between Arabic digits and letter strings is represented in terms
of distributed patterns rather than separate regions.
ISSN: 1662-5161
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Parenting and Special Education
Laboratory for Biological Psychology
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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