Numerical working memory alters alpha-beta oscillations and connectivity in the parietal cortices

Sam M. Koshy, Alex I. Wiesman, Amy L. Proskovec, Christine M. Embury, Mikki D. Schantell, Jacob A. Eastman, Elizabeth Heinrichs-Graham, Tony W. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Although the neural bases of numerical processing and memory have been extensively studied, much remains to be elucidated concerning the spectral and temporal dynamics surrounding these important cognitive processes. To further this understanding, we employed a novel numerical working memory paradigm in 28 young, healthy adults who underwent magnetoencephalography (MEG). The resulting data were examined in the time-frequency domain prior to image reconstruction using a beamformer. Whole-brain, spectrally-constrained coherence was also employed to determine network connectivity. In response to the numerical task, participants exhibited robust alpha/beta oscillations in the bilateral parietal cortices. Whole-brain statistical comparisons examining the effect of numerical manipulation during memory-item maintenance revealed a difference centered in the right superior parietal cortex, such that oscillatory responses during numerical manipulation were significantly stronger than when no manipulation was necessary. Additionally, there was significantly reduced cortico-cortical coherence between the right and left superior parietal regions during the manipulation compared to the maintenance trials, indicating that these regions were functioning more independently when the numerical information had to be actively processed. In sum, these results support previous studies that have implicated the importance of parietal regions in numerical processing, but also provide new knowledge on the spectral, temporal, and network dynamics that serve this critical cognitive function during active working memory maintenance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3709-3719
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number13
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • neural oscillations
  • numerical processing
  • superior parietal cortex
  • working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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