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Journal Article

Mathematical logic in the human brain: Semantics


Friedrich,  Roland
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Department of Mathematics, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;


Friederici,  Angela D.
Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Friedrich, R., & Friederici, A. D. (2013). Mathematical logic in the human brain: Semantics. PLoS One, 8(1): e53699. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0053699.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-7538-1
As a higher cognitive function in humans, mathematics is supported by parietal and prefrontal brain regions. Here, we give an integrative account of the role of the different brain systems in processing the semantics of mathematical logic from the perspective of macroscopic polysynaptic networks. By comparing algebraic and arithmetic expressions of identical underlying structure, we show how the different subparts of a fronto-parietal network are modulated by the semantic domain, over which the mathematical formulae are interpreted. Within this network, the prefrontal cortex represents a system that hosts three major components, namely, control, arithmetic-logic, and short-term memory. This prefrontal system operates on data fed to it by two other systems: a premotor-parietal top-down system that updates and transforms (external) data into an internal format, and a hippocampal bottom-up system that either detects novel information or serves as an access device to memory for previously acquired knowledge.