Mathematics is often dubbed the language of science, but does mathematical aptitude itself have anything to do with language? To investigate, Marie Amalric and Stanislas Dehaene of the Université of Paris-Sud and Université Paris-Saclay, France, used functional MRI (fMRI) imaging to image the brains of professional mathematicians and non-mathematicians of equal academic standing when asked questions about the truth or falsity of mathematical and non-mathematical statements. Among the professional mathematicians, fMRI clearly showed activation in the bilateral frontal, intraparietal and ventrolateral temporal regions – regardless of whether the questions concerned algebra, analysis, topology or geometry. Intriguingly, the subjects did not rely on areas of the brain that relate to language and general-knowledge semantics, and instead used areas that were activated by numbers and formulae in the non-mathematician group. This, claim the authors, suggests that high-level mathematical expertise and basic number sense share common roots in a non-linguistic brain circuit.