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The neural basis of number space: probing connectivity and interactions between number and space processing with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) (NBNS)
Start date: Oct 1, 2007, End date: Sep 30, 2008 PROJECT  FINISHED 

By adopting a virtual lesion approach, the present project is aimed to map the brain circuitry responsible for the interaction between numbers and space in healthy adults. Some people possess a mental image of the number sequence that is spatially distributed and can be used to carry out calculations. People without an explicit number form nevertheless represent numbers spatially, in Western cultures with small numbers toward the left of mental space and large numbers towards the right. It is still unclear to what extent space and number processing are intermingled in the brain, and whether number magnitude representations can be dissociated from their mental spatial representation. Also, it is unclear whether mapping numbers onto a mental space is an instance of a domain-general cognitive mechanism rather than a domain specific feature.The present project is aimed to address these questions with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a technique that allows one to unveil causal rather than correlational relations between brain circuits and cognitive processes. In case of anatomical overlap, functional overlap will also be tested by probing time intervals in which specific cortical circuits are necessary for normal number and space processing. In the long run, this study will be beneficial for educational practice, since it could clarify the role of spatial representations in shaping number understanding.The project will allow the applicant to build on technical and conceptual skills acquired during her PhD at the University of Padova and University College London, and refined during her post-doctoral training at University College London. The host institution will provide the applicant with the opportunity to use and develop its TMS facilities, also in view of combining TMS with other techniques such as EEG and fMRI at the recently established Centre for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC).

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