Mathematics or Memory? Study Charts Collision Course in Brain
You already know it’s hard to balance your checkbook while simultaneously reflecting on your past. Now, investigators at the Stanford University School of Medicine — having done the equivalent of wire-tapping a hard-to-reach region of the brain — can tell us how this impasse arises.
The researchers showed that groups of nerve cells in a structure called the posterior medial cortex, or PMC, are strongly activated during a recall task such as trying to remember whether you had coffee yesterday, but just as strongly suppressed when you’re engaged in solving a math problem. The PMC, situated roughly where the brain’s two hemispheres meet, is of great interest to neuroscientists because of its central role in introspective activities.