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Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences
School of Medical Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia
ISSN: 1394-195X
Vol. 18, No. 2, 2011, pp. 3-15
Bioline Code: mj11016
Full paper language: English
Document type: Research Article
Document available free of charge

Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2011, pp. 3-15

 en Brain Activation during Addition and Subtraction Tasks In-Noise and In-Quiet
Hamid, Aini Ismafairus Abd; Yusoff, Ahmad Nazlim; Mukari, Siti Zamratol-Mai Sarah & Mohamad, Mazlyfarina


Background: In spite of extensive research conducted to study how human brain works, little is known about a special function of the brain that stores and manipulates information-the working memory-and how noise influences this special ability. In this study, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate brain responses to arithmetic problems solved in noisy and quiet backgrounds.
Methods: Eighteen healthy young males performed simple arithmetic operations of addition and subtraction with in-quiet and in-noise backgrounds. The MATLAB-based Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM8) was implemented on the fMRI datasets to generate and analyse the activated brain regions.
Results: Group results showed that addition and subtraction operations evoked extended activation in the left inferior parietal lobe, left precentral gyrus, left superior parietal lobe, left supramarginal gyrus, and left middle temporal gyrus. This supported the hypothesis that the human brain relatively activates its left hemisphere more compared with the right hemisphere when solving arithmetic problems. The insula, middle cingulate cortex, and middle frontal gyrus, however, showed more extended right hemispheric activation, potentially due to the involvement of attention, executive processes, and working memory. For addition operations, there was extensive left hemispheric activation in the superior temporal gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus, and thalamus. In contrast, subtraction tasks evoked a greater activation of similar brain structures in the right hemisphere. For both addition and subtraction operations, the total number of activated voxels was higher for in-noise than in-quiet conditions.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that when arithmetic operations were delivered auditorily, the auditory, attention, and working memory functions were required to accomplish the executive processing of the mathematical calculation. The respective brain activation patterns appear to be modulated by the noisy background condition.

brain mapping, fMRI, functional laterality, mathematics, memory and cognition, noise

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