Memory Updating and Mental Arithmetic

Cheng-ching Han, Tsung-han Yang, Chia-yuan Lin, Nai-shing Yen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Is domain-general memory updating ability predictive of calculation skills or are such skills better predicted by the capacity for updating specifically numerical information? Here, we used multidigit mental multiplication (MMM) as a measure for calculating skill as this operation requires the accurate maintenance and updating of information in addition to skills needed for arithmetic more generally. In Experiment 1, we found that only individual differences with regard to a task updating numerical information following addition (MUcalc) could predict the performance of MMM, perhaps owing to common elements between the task and MMM. In Experiment 2, new updating tasks were designed to clarify this: a spatial updating task with no numbers, a numerical task with no calculation, and a word task. The results showed that both MUcalc and the spatial task were able to predict the performance of MMM but only with the more difficult problems, while other updating tasks did not predict performance. It is concluded that relevant processes involved in updating the contents of working memory support mental arithmetic in adults.
Original languageEnglish
Article number72
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes

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