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Number processing after stroke: Anatomoclinical correlations in oral and written codes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 August 2003

Eugène Mayer*
Neuropsychology Unit, Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland
Michael Reicherts
Psychological Institute, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Gérard Deloche
Psychological Institute, University of Reims, France
Lucia Willadino-Braga
Sarah's Rehabilitation Foundation, Brasilia, Brazil
Irène Taussik
Psychological Institute, University of Buenos-Aires, Argentina
Monique Dordain
Service de Neurologie, Clermont-Ferrand, France
Martial Van Der Linden
Psychological Institute, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Jean-Marie Annoni
Neuropsychology Unit, Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland
Reprint requests to: Dr. Eugène Mayer, Neuropsychological Unit, Neurological Clinic, University Hospital, CH-1211 Genève 14, Switzerland. E-mail:


Calculation and number-processing abilities were studied in 49 patients with chronic single vascular brain lesions by means of a standardized multitask assessment battery (EC301), as well as through other tasks, testing functions thought to be implicated in calculation such as language, visuo-perceptive abilities, verbal and spatial working memory, planning, and attention. The results show that (1) lesions involving parietal areas—particularly left parietal lesions—are prone to alter calculation processing. A more detailed analysis showed that patients with lesions involving left parietal areas were impaired in both digital (i.e., comprehension and production of numbers written in Arabic code) and oral (i.e., comprehension and production of numbers heard or expressed orally) processing while lesions involving right parietal areas lead to an impairment in digital processing only. However, linguistically related alphanumerical processing (i.e., comprehension and production of numbers written orthographically) was not influenced by parietal lesions. (2) Semantic representations (knowledge of the magnitude related to a given number) as well as rote arithmetical knowledge are also impaired following damage to parietal and particularly left parietal lesions, suggesting that these areas are also implicated in magnitude comparisons and in the retrieval of arithmetical facts. (3) Performance in calculation is highly correlated with language. (4) Moreover, we found a highly significant correlation between performances in oral calculation and verbal working memory, and between written-digit calculation and visuospatial working memory. Performances in regard to visuo-perceptive abilities, planning, and attention were less consistently correlated with calculation. These results stress the close correlation, but relative independence between calculation and language, as well as a dissociated sensitivity of oral and digital processing to brain lesions. (JINS, 2003, 9, 899–912.)

Research Article
Copyright © The International Neuropsychological Society 2003

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