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Conference in French : How does the human brain manipulate mathematical concepts ? by Marie AMALRIC

Contributed by: Interdisciplinary European Academy of Sciences - Académie Européenne Interdisciplinaire des Sciences

From 2018-01-08 to 2018-01-08, France
Marie Amalric is PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Rochester, NY
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences /CAOs lab
Place : Institut Henri Poincaré, 11 rue Pierre et Marie Curie, F-75005 Paris, France
Room : 01
Date : January 8, 2018
Time : 15:45 - 17:45

How does the human brain conceptualize abstract ideas? In particular, what is the origin of mathematical activity, especially when it is associated with high-level of abstraction? Cognitive sciences have now started to investigate this question that has been of great interest to philosophers, mathematicians and educators for a long time. While studies have so far focused on arithmetic processing, my work aims at further investigating the dissociation between mathematical and language processing in the case of advanced mathematical knowledge, which gives better account for the diversity of mathematical activities (analysis, algebra, topology, geometry …) than simple arithmetic.
I will present three fMRI studies that involved professional mathematicians (including the exceptional case of three blind mathematicians), in which subjects had to evaluate the truth-value of advanced spoken mathematical and nonmathematical statements. Even formulated as sentences, all mathematical statements, regardless of their difficulty, domain, or participants’ visual experience, activated a reproducible set of bilateral intraparietal and ventrolateral temporal regions that completely dissociated from areas related to language and general-knowledge semantics, but rather coincided with sites activated by simple arithmetic. Conversely, all nonmathematical statements focusing on history, arts or everyday general knowledge, even including logical operations such as quantifiers or negation, activated brain regions classically involved in language processing. These results tend to show that mathematical activity recycles brain areas involved in basic knowledge of number and space, and dissociates from linguistic semantic processing.

Amalric, M. & Dehaene, S. Origins of the brain networks for advanced mathematics in expert mathematicians. PNAS, 04/2016; 113(18). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1603205113
Amalric, M., Denghien, I., Dehaene, S. On the role of visual experience in mathematical development: Evidence from blind mathematicians. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 10/2017. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2017.09.007



    Interdisciplinary European Academy of Sciences - Académie Européenne Interdisciplinaire des Sciences
    Rue Descartes, 5
    F-75005 Paris


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  • France


human brain, mathematical concepts
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