We measured cerebral activation with functional magnetic resonance imaging at 3 Tesla while eight healthy volunteers performed various number processing tasks known to be dissociable in brain-lesioned patients: naming, comparing, multiplying, or subtracting single digits. The results revealed the activation of a circuit comprising bilateral intraparietal, prefrontal, and anterior cingulate components. The extension and lateralization of this circuit was modulated by task demands. The intraparietal and prefrontal activation was more important in the right hemisphere during the comparison task and in the left hemisphere during the multiplication task and was intensely bilateral during the subtraction task. Thus, partially distinct cerebral circuits with the dorsal parietal pathway underlie distinct arithmetic operations.

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