Neural basis of the cross-domain syntactic priming between language and mathematics

[Speaker] Nakai, Tomoya:1,2
[Co-author] Okanoya, Kazuo:1,3,4
1:The University of Tokyo (Japan), 2:Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Research Fellow (Japan), 3:Center for Evolutionary Cognitive Science, The University of Tokyo (Japan), 4:Riken Brain Science Institute (Japan)

It has been proposed that the faculty of syntax in language is partially shared with that of mathematics. A recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study reported joint activations in Broca's area for language and mathematics (Makuuchi et al., 2012). To examine the interaction between these two domains, we created a task with cross-domain syntactic priming. Participants were asked to perform a calculation task and semantical decision task for consecutively presented mathematical expressions and sentences, respectively. We found that structurally congruent stimuli induced significantly lower error rates compared to incongruent stimuli, only for students in scientific department (P < 0.05). We further performed an fMRI experiment with the same task, and found significant adaptation effects in the left temporal pole. Our results support the idea that language and mathematics have a shared basis in their syntactic structure (Supported by a Grant-in-Aid for JSPS Fellows #26-9945, Kakenhi #23118003, and ImPACT).
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