TY - JOUR

T1 - Breaking down number syntax

T2 - Spared comprehension of multi-digit numbers in a patient with impaired digit-to-word conversion

AU - Dotan, Dror

AU - Friedmann, Naama

AU - Dehaene, Stanislas

N1 - Funding Information:
We thank Aviah Gvion, Maya Faran, and Reut Talmor Stark for their assistance in administering the neuropsychological tasks and for the discussions on the findings and their implications. We also thank Outi Bat-El for her assistance in designing some of the experiments, and Stav Klein for her assistance in encoding the results. This research was supported by INSERM, CEA, Collège de France, by a grant from the Bettencourt-Schueller Foundation , by the Lieselotte Adler Laboratory for Research on Child Development , and by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD), Macquarie University. Dror Dotan is grateful to the Azrieli Foundation for the award of an Azrieli Fellowship.

PY - 2014/10

Y1 - 2014/10

N2 - Can the meaning of two-digit Arabic numbers be accessed independently of their verbal-phonological representations? To answer this question we explored the number processing of ZN, an aphasic patient with a syntactic deficit in digit-to-verbal transcoding, who could hardly read aloud two-digit numbers, but could read them as single digits ("four, two"). Neuropsychological examination showed that ZN's deficit was neither in the digit input nor in the phonological output processes, as he could copy and repeat two-digit numbers. His deficit thus lied in a central process that converts digits to abstract number words and sends this information to phonological retrieval processes. Crucially, in spite of this deficit in number transcoding, ZN's two-digit comprehension was spared in several ways: (1) he could calculate two-digit additions; (2) he showed good performance in a two-digit comparison task, and a continuous distance effect; and (3) his performance in a task of mapping numbers to positions on an unmarked number line showed a logarithmic (nonlinear) factor, indicating that he represented two-digit Arabic numbers as holistic two-digit quantities. Thus, at least these aspects of number comprehension can be performed without converting the two-digit number from digits to verbal representation.

AB - Can the meaning of two-digit Arabic numbers be accessed independently of their verbal-phonological representations? To answer this question we explored the number processing of ZN, an aphasic patient with a syntactic deficit in digit-to-verbal transcoding, who could hardly read aloud two-digit numbers, but could read them as single digits ("four, two"). Neuropsychological examination showed that ZN's deficit was neither in the digit input nor in the phonological output processes, as he could copy and repeat two-digit numbers. His deficit thus lied in a central process that converts digits to abstract number words and sends this information to phonological retrieval processes. Crucially, in spite of this deficit in number transcoding, ZN's two-digit comprehension was spared in several ways: (1) he could calculate two-digit additions; (2) he showed good performance in a two-digit comparison task, and a continuous distance effect; and (3) his performance in a task of mapping numbers to positions on an unmarked number line showed a logarithmic (nonlinear) factor, indicating that he represented two-digit Arabic numbers as holistic two-digit quantities. Thus, at least these aspects of number comprehension can be performed without converting the two-digit number from digits to verbal representation.

KW - Arithmetic

KW - Holistic processing

KW - Number representation

KW - Number syntax

KW - Two-digit numbers

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84906061907&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.07.005

DO - 10.1016/j.cortex.2014.07.005

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AN - SCOPUS:84906061907

SN - 0010-9452

VL - 59

SP - 62

EP - 73

JO - Cortex

JF - Cortex

ER -