The major goals of human neuroscience are to understand how the brain functions in the real world and to measure neural processes under conditions that are ecologically valid. A critical step toward these goals is understanding how brain activity during naturalistic tasks that mimic the real world relates to brain activity in more traditional laboratory tasks. In this study, we used intersubject correlations to locate reliable stimulus-driven cerebral processes among children and adults in a naturalistic video lesson and a laboratory forced-choice task that shared the same arithmetic concept. We show that relative to a control condition with grammatical content, naturalistic and laboratory arithmetic tasks evoked overlapping activation within brain regions previously associated with math semantics. The regions of specific functional overlap between the naturalistic mathematics lesson and laboratory mathematics task included bilateral intraparietal cortex, which confirms that this region processes mathematical content independently of differences in task mode. These findings suggest that regions of the intraparietal cortex process mathematical content when children are learning about mathematics in a naturalistic setting.

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