The brain network for deductive reasoning: a quantitative meta-analysis of 28 neuroimaging studies
Over the course of the past decade, contradictory claims have been made regarding the neural bases of deductive reasoning. Researchers have been puzzled by apparent inconsistencies in the literature. Some have even questioned the effectiveness of the methodology used to study the neural bases of deductive reasoning. However, the idea that neuroimaging findings are inconsistent is not based on any quantitative evidence. Here, we report the results of a quantitative meta-analysis of 28 neuroimaging studies of deductive reasoning published between 1997 and 2010, combining 382 participants. Consistent areas of activations across studies were identified using the multilevel kernel density analysis method. We found that results from neuroimaging studies are more consistent than what has been previously assumed. Overall, studies consistently report activations in specific regions of a left fronto-parietal system, as well as in the left BG. This brain system can be decomposed into three subsystems that are specific to particular types of deductive arguments: relational, categorical, and propositional. These dissociations explain inconstancies in the literature. However, they are incompatible with the notion that deductive reasoning is supported by a single cognitive system relying either on visuospatial or rule-based mechanisms. Our findings provide critical insight into the cognitive organization of deductive reasoning and need to be accounted for by cognitive theories.