Author(s): Trbovich PL, LeFevre JA
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Abstract The goal of the present research was to examine the role of working memory in mental arithmetic. Adults (n = 96) solved multidigit arithmetic problems (e.g., 52 + 3; 3 + 52) alone and in combination with either a phonological memory load (i.e., nonwords, such as gup) or a visual memory load (i.e., random pattern of asterisks). The participants solved problems presented in a vertical format significantly faster than problems presented in a horizontal format. They also solved double digit first problems (e.g., 52 + 3) more quickly than the reverse (e.g., 3 + 52), but only when the problems were presented horizontally. Performance was worse in the phonological load condition than in the visual load condition for the participants who solved problems presented horizontally, whereas performance was worse in the visual load condition than in the phonological load condition when problems were presented vertically. The present research provides evidence that both phonological and visual aspects of working memory are involved in mental arithmetic but that the role of each working memory component will depend on such factors as presentation format.
This article was published in Mem Cognit
and referenced in International Journal of School and Cognitive Psychology