A common neural substrate for number comparison, hand reaching and grasping: A SDM-PSI meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies

Mariagrazia Ranzini, Cristina Scarpazza, Joaquim Radua, Simone Cutini, Carlo Semenza, Marco Zorzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reliance of number processing on sensorimotor mechanisms involved in hand action has been extensively documented by behavioural studies. Nonetheless, where and how the computations of number and hand action interact in the brain has received limited attention. In this study we investigated the brain networks underlying symbolic number comparison and the hand action of reaching and grasping, capitalizing on functional imaging studies meta-analyzed with the seed-based d mapping with permutation of subject images meta-analytic method (SDM-PSI). The main objective was to test whether and to what extent symbolic number processing recruits the same sensorimotor network involved in the hand action of reaching and grasping. We included 42 studies (756 participants) adopting symbolic number comparison tasks and 58 studies (867 participants) investigating hand reaching and hand grasping. The conjunction analysis of brain networks common to number processing, reaching, and grasping revealed spatial convergence over frontoparietal areas. Specifically, four clusters were identified, in and around the left and right intraparietal sulci, in the left precentral gyrus, and in the supplementary motor area. The degree of overlap was extensive, since the reach/grasp network mostly included the number areas. A qualitative analysis of functional characterization capitalizing on the Neurosynth database depicted a strong multifunctionality of the regions of overlap between numbers and hand action: these brain areas were also associated to a variety of functions within the domains of memory and imagery, visuospatial attention, and language. Overall, these results characterize the neuroanatomical substrate of the interaction between reaching, grasping, and symbolic number comparison.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-67
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - Jan 11 2022


  • Hand grasping
  • Hand reaching
  • Meta-analysis
  • Number comparison
  • Numerical cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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