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Magnetic Resonance Imaging of Calculus Problem Solving

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT00060658
Recruitment Status : Completed
First Posted : May 9, 2003
Last Update Posted : March 4, 2008
Information provided by:
National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC)

Brief Summary:

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 brain activation.

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.

Condition or disease

Detailed Description:

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.

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Study Type : Observational
Enrollment : 60 participants
Official Title: Functional Neuroimaging of Calculus Problem Solving
Study Start Date : May 2003
Study Completion Date : March 2005

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   Child, Adult, Older Adult
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes


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 studies).


Individuals with a neurological or psychiatric history or medical condition that would constrain interpretation of their performance during functional neuroimaging studies will be excluded.

Individuals with contraindications to exposure to high magnetic field.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT00060658

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United States, Maryland
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Bethesda, Maryland, United States, 20892
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Layout table for additonal information Identifier: NCT00060658    
Other Study ID Numbers: 030178
First Posted: May 9, 2003    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: March 4, 2008
Last Verified: March 2005
Keywords provided by National Institutes of Health Clinical Center (CC):
Prefrontal Cortex
Brain Mapping
Healthy Volunteer
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Pathological Conditions, Anatomical