The role of the temporal lobe semantic system in number knowledge: Evidence from late-stage semantic dementia

Elizabeth Jefferies, David Bateman, Matthew A. Lambon Ralph

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    Abstract

    Previous reports have demonstrated that many aspects of number knowledge remain unimpaired in semantic dementia, despite severe comprehension problems in other domains. It is argued that this advantage for numbers arises because the disease spares the parietal lobe magnitude system thought to be critical for number processing. Models of numerical cognition that favour a separation between verbal and magnitude representations of number might, however, predict a restricted impairment of the verbal number code in this condition. We obtained support for this hypothesis in a patient with late-stage semantic dementia. She was impaired at a variety of tasks tapping the verbal number code; for example, reading and writing Arabic numerals, naming and word-picture matching with dot pictures, reading aloud number words, digit span and magnitude comparison/serial ordering tasks with number words. In contrast, she demonstrated good understanding of the magnitude and serial order of numbers when tested with Arabic numerals and non-symbolic representations. These findings suggest that although the magnitude meaning of numbers is isolated from the temporal lobe semantic system, the anterior infero-temporal lobe may play a critical role in binding English number words to their non-symbolic magnitude meaning. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)887-905
    Number of pages18
    JournalNEUROPSYCHOLOGIA
    Volume43
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

    Keywords

    • Number knowledge
    • Semantic dementia

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