Bidirectional Modulation of Numerical Magnitude.
Arshad Q., Nigmatullina Y., Nigmatullin R., Asavarut P., Goga U., Khan S., Sander K., Siddiqui S., Roberts RE., Cohen Kadosh R., Bronstein AM., Malhotra PA.
Numerical cognition is critical for modern life; however, the precise neural mechanisms underpinning numerical magnitude allocation in humans remain obscure. Based upon previous reports demonstrating the close behavioral and neuro-anatomical relationship between number allocation and spatial attention, we hypothesized that these systems would be subject to similar control mechanisms, namely dynamic interhemispheric competition. We employed a physiological paradigm, combining visual and vestibular stimulation, to induce interhemispheric conflict and subsequent unihemispheric inhibition, as confirmed by transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). This allowed us to demonstrate the first systematic bidirectional modulation of numerical magnitude toward either higher or lower numbers, independently of either eye movements or spatial attention mediated biases. We incorporated both our findings and those from the most widely accepted theoretical framework for numerical cognition to present a novel unifying computational model that describes how numerical magnitude allocation is subject to dynamic interhemispheric competition. That is, numerical allocation is continually updated in a contextual manner based upon relative magnitude, with the right hemisphere responsible for smaller magnitudes and the left hemisphere for larger magnitudes.