Brain Structure and Function

, Volume 224, Issue 1, pp 263–275 | Cite as

Fronto-parietal numerical networks in relation with early numeracy in young children

  • Han Zhang
  • Chong-Yaw Wee
  • Joann S. Poh
  • Qiang Wang
  • Lynette P. Shek
  • Yap-Seng Chong
  • Marielle V. Fortier
  • Michael J. Meaney
  • Birit F. P. Broekman
  • Anqi QiuEmail author
Original Article


Early numeracy provides the foundation of acquiring mathematical skills that is essential for future academic success. This study examined numerical functional networks in relation to counting and number relational skills in preschoolers at 4 and 6 years of age. The counting and number relational skills were assessed using school readiness test (SRT). Resting-state fMRI (rs-fMRI) was acquired in 123 4-year-olds and 146 6-year-olds. Among them, 61 were scanned twice over the course of 2 years. Meta-analysis on existing task-based numeracy fMRI studies identified the left parietal-dominant network for both counting and number relational skills and the right parietal-dominant network only for number relational skills in adults. We showed that the fronto-parietal numerical networks, observed in adults, already exist in 4-year and 6-year-olds. The counting skills were associated with the bilateral fronto-parietal network in 4-year-olds and with the right parietal-dominant network in 6-year-olds. Moreover, the number relational skills were related to the bilateral fronto-parietal and right parietal-dominant networks in 4-year-olds and had a trend of the significant relationship with the right parietal-dominant network in 6-year-olds. Our findings suggested that neural fine-tuning of the fronto-parietal numerical networks may subserve the maturation of numeracy in early childhood.


School readiness test Counting Number relation Resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging Fronto-parietal network 



This research is supported by the Singapore National Research Foundation under its Translational and Clinical Research (TCR) Flagship Programme and administered by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council (NMRC), Singapore—NMRC/TCR/004-NUS/2008; NMRC/TCR/012-NUHS/2014. Additional funding is provided by NMRC (NMRC/CBRG/0039/2013).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

429_2018_1774_MOESM1_ESM.doc (180 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 180 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Han Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chong-Yaw Wee
    • 1
  • Joann S. Poh
    • 2
  • Qiang Wang
    • 1
  • Lynette P. Shek
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  • Yap-Seng Chong
    • 2
    • 8
  • Marielle V. Fortier
    • 3
  • Michael J. Meaney
    • 2
    • 4
    • 5
  • Birit F. P. Broekman
    • 2
  • Anqi Qiu
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biomedical Engineering and Clinical Imaging Research CenterNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Singapore Institute for Clinical SciencesSingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Department of Diagnostic and Interventional ImagingKK Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Singapore (KKH)SingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.Ludmer Centre for Neuroinformatics and Mental Health, Douglas Mental Health University InstituteMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  5. 5.Sackler Program for Epigenetics and PsychobiologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  6. 6.Department of Paediatrics, Yong Loo Lin School of MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  7. 7.Khoo Teck Puat-National University Children’s Medical InstituteNational University Health SystemSingaporeSingapore
  8. 8.Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of MedicineNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore

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