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See detailNumber processing and basal ganglia dysfunction: a single case study.
Delazer, Margarete; Domahs, Frank; Lochy, Aliette UL et al

in Neuropsychologia (2004), 42(8), 1050-62

Numerical processing has never been investigated in a case of Fahr's disease (FD) and only rarely in cases of basal ganglia dysfunction. The study describes the cognitive decline of a pre-morbidly high ... [more ▼]

Numerical processing has never been investigated in a case of Fahr's disease (FD) and only rarely in cases of basal ganglia dysfunction. The study describes the cognitive decline of a pre-morbidly high-functioning patient (medical doctor) affected by FD and his difficulties in number processing. A MRI scan revealed bilateral calcifications in the basal ganglia and a brain PET showed a massive reduction of glucose metabolism in the basal ganglia and both frontal lobes, but no other brain abnormalities. The patient's cognitive deficits included impairments in problem solving, in cognitive set shifting and in mental flexibility, as well as in verbal memory. These deficits are attributed to the disruption of the dorsolateral prefrontal circuit involving the basal ganglia. In number processing, the patient showed a severe deficit in the retrieval of multiplication facts, deficits in all tasks of numerical problem solving and in the execution of complex procedures. Importantly, he also showed a dense deficit in conceptual knowledge, which concerned all test conditions and all operations. The findings confirm the predictions of the triple code model in so far, as a disruption of cortico-subcortical loops involving the basal-ganglia may lead to specific deficits in fact retrieval. However, no verbal deficit, as assumed in the triple code model and reported in similar cases, could be observed. The present findings further add to current knowledge on numerical processing, showing how fronto-executive dysfunction may disrupt conceptual understanding of arithmetic. This study shows that not only parietal lesions may lead to severe deficits in conceptual understanding, but that basal ganglia lesions leading to frontal dysfunction may have a devastating effect. [less ▲]

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