Frontal lobe role in simple arithmetic calculations: An fNIR study

Hedva Meiri, Itamar Sela, Pearla Nesher, Meltem Izzetoglu, Kurtulus Izzetoglu, Banu Onaral, Zvia Breznitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study aimed to affirm the use of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIR) in examining frontal lobe role during automatic (i.e., requires retrieval from long-term memory) and method-based (i.e., requires calculation) arithmetic processing. Adult university students (math difficulties [MD] and control) performed simple arithmetic calculations while monitored using an fNIR system designed to image regions within the frontal cortices. Addition and subtraction problems presented on a computer screen belonged to one of three categories: triples "under 10" (e.g., 2 + 3 = ?, 5 - 3 = ?), triples that "break 10" (e.g., 5 + 8 = ?, 13 - 5 = ?), or triples "including 10" (e.g., 10 + 7 = ?, 17 - 10 = ?). fNIR recordings indicated significant interactions between type of triple, operation, and group over left frontal lobe, and between type of triple and group over right frontal lobe.Within-group differences among controls were found in the "break 10" triples with higher DeOxyHb level recorded during subtraction processing. Between-group differences were found in the "break 10" and "including 10" triples for subtraction with higher levels of DeOxyHb recorded among controls. Results imply that among adults frontal lobe is still involved during simple mathematical processing and fNIR recordings can differentiate its role in adults of varying mathematical ability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-47
Number of pages5
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 21 Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for this research project was provided by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation .


  • Arithmetic processing
  • Calculation
  • FNIR
  • Frontal lobe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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