Virtual dyscalculia induced by parietal-lobe TMS impairs automatic magnitude processing.
Cohen Kadosh R., Cohen Kadosh K., Schuhmann T., Kaas A., Goebel R., Henik A., Sack AT.
People suffering from developmental dyscalculia encounter difficulties in automatically accessing numerical magnitudes [1-3]. For example, when instructed to attend to the physical size of a number while ignoring its numerical value, dyscalculic subjects, unlike healthy participants, fail to process the irrelevant dimension automatically and subsequently show a smaller size-congruity effect (difference in reaction time between incongruent [e.g., a physically large 2 and a physically small 4] and congruent [e.g., a physically small 2 and a physically large 4] conditions), and no facilitation (neutral [e.g., a physically small 2 and a physically large 2] versus congruent) . Previous imaging studies determined the intraparietal sulcus (IPS) as a central area for numerical processing [4-11]. A few studies tried to identify the brain dysfunction underlying developmental dyscalculia but yielded mixed results regarding the involvement of the left  or the right  IPS. Here we applied fMRI-guided TMS neuronavigation to disrupt left- or right-IPS activation clusters in order to induce dyscalculic-like behavioral deficits in healthy volunteers. Automatic magnitude processing was impaired only during disruption of right-IPS activity. When using the identical paradigm with dyscalculic participants, we reproduced a result pattern similar to that obtained with nondyscalculic volunteers during right-IPS disruption. These findings provide direct evidence for the functional role of right IPS in automatic magnitude processing.