Assessing hemispheric specialization for processing arithmetic skills in adults: A functional transcranial doppler ultrasonography (fTCD) study

Veronica M. Connaughton, Azhani Amiruddin, Karen L. Clunies-Ross, Noel French, Allison M. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background A major model of the cerebral circuits that underpin arithmetic calculation is the triple-code model of numerical processing. This model proposes that the lateralization of mathematical operations is organized across three circuits: a left-hemispheric dominant verbal code; a bilateral magnitude representation of numbers and a bilateral Arabic number code. New method This study simultaneously measured the blood flow of both middle cerebral arteries using functional transcranial Doppler ultrasonography to assess hemispheric specialization during the performance of both language and arithmetic tasks. The propositions of the triple-code model were assessed in a non-clinical adult group by measuring cerebral blood flow during the performance of multiplication and subtraction problems. Participants were 17 adults aged between 18–27 years. We obtained laterality indices for each type of mathematical operation and compared these in participants with left-hemispheric language dominance. It was hypothesized that blood flow would lateralize to the left hemisphere during the performance of multiplication operations, but would not lateralize during the performance of subtraction operations. Results Hemispheric blood flow was significantly left lateralized during the multiplication task, but was not lateralized during the subtraction task. Comparison with existing method(s) Compared to high spatial resolution neuroimaging techniques previously used to measure cerebral lateralization, functional transcranial Doppler ultrasonography is a cost-effective measure that provides a superior temporal representation of arithmetic cognition. Conclusions These results provide support for the triple-code model of arithmetic processing and offer complementary evidence that multiplication operations are processed differently in the adult brain compared to subtraction operations. © 2017 Elsevier B.V. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-41
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


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