This study will use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to identify brain regions involved in
solving algebraic math problems. It will examine brain activation according to the level of
difficulty and the number of steps required to solve the problem. This information will
help identify a possible correlation between problem-solving strategies and patterns of
Undergraduate or graduate students between 19 and 36 years of age who have completed at
least 2 years of college, have had at least one college course in integral calculus, and who
have no history of neurological disease may be eligible for this study. Candidates will be
screened with a medical history, including psychiatric and neurological information.
Participants will be asked to mentally solve a variety of integral calculus problems while
undergoing MRI scanning, a procedure that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to
produce images of structural and chemical changes in the brain. During the scan, the
subject lies on a table in a narrow cylinder (the scanner) containing a magnetic field. A
problem and possible solution are presented to the subject, who presses a button to verify
if the answer is correct. At the end of the test, the participant completes a follow-up
questionnaire to determine the problem-solving strategies used.
The purpose of this protocol is to localize the neural regions and systems mediating the
forms of knowledge representations hypothesized by the principal investigator to be stored
in the human prefontal cortex.
Utilizing experimental neuropsychological tasks during functional MRI on healthy, adult
volunteers, we will investigate hypotheses regarding the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal
cortex in mathematical cognition in a population of normal controls recruited among college
and graduate students. We will also attempt to determine the relationship of mathematical
cognition between non-frontal neural structures, such as left parietal lobe, and frontal
neural structures involved in mechanistic plans, actions and mental sets.
The data collected will consist of behavioral measures of cognitive performance and
corresponding fMRI images. The data that we collect in this protocol will be of value in
identifying a set of neural regions and distributed networks mediating the forms of
knowledge representation stored in the prefrontal cortex. We will also use the data
obtained in these studies to constrain theories of frontal lobe function and to provide
evidence for the role of specific frontal cortex sectors in specific cognitive functions.
Graduate students and undergraduate students who have completed two years of college.
They also must have taken at least one college course in Integral Calculus.
Age range: 19-40.
Right-handedness (some left-handed subjects may be recruited for preliminary behavioral
Individuals with a neurological or psychiatric history or medical condition that would
constrain interpretation of their performance during functional neuroimaging studies will
Individuals with contraindications to exposure to high magnetic field.