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The neural architecture of expert calendar calculation: A matter of strategy?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Thorsten Fehr, Gregory L. Wallace, Peter Erhard, Manfred Herrmann

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360 - 371
Number of pages12
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011

King's Authors


Savants and prodigies are individuals with exceptional skills in particular mental domains. In the present study we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine neural correlates of calendar calculation in two individuals, a savant with Asperger's disorder and a self-taught mathematical prodigy. If there is a modular neural organization of exceptional performance in a specific mental domain, calendar calculation should be reflected in a considerable overlap in the recruitment of brain circuits across expert individuals. However, considerable individual differences in activation patterns during calendar calculation were noted. The present results indicate that activation patterns produced by complex mental processing, such as calendar calculation, seem to be influenced strongly by learning history and idiosyncratic strategy usage rather than a modular neural organization. Thus, well-known individual differences in complex cognition play a major role even in experts with exceptional abilities in a particular mental domain and should in particular be considered when examining the neural architecture of complex mental processes and skills.

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