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Selective interference of finger movements on basic addition and subtraction problem solving

(2013) EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. 60(3). p.197-205
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Abstract
Fingers offer a practical tool to represent and manipulate numbers during the acquisition of arithmetic knowledge, usually with a greater involvement in addition and subtraction than in multiplication. In adults, brain-imaging studies show that mental arithmetic increases activity in areas known for their contribution to finger movements. It is unclear, however, if this truly reflects functional interactions between the processes and/or representations controlling finger movements and those involved in mental arithmetic, or a mere anatomical proximity. In this study we assessed whether finger movements interfere with basic arithmetic problem solving, and whether this interference is specific for the operations that benefit the most from finger-based calculation strategies in childhood. In Experiment 1, we asked participants to solve addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems either with their hands at rest or while moving their right-hand fingers sequentially. The results showed that finger movements induced a selective time cost in solving addition and subtraction but not multiplication problems. In Experiment 2, we asked participants to solve the same problems while performing a sequence of foot movements. The results showed that foot movements produced a nonspecific interference with all three operations. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the specific role of finger-related processes in solving addition and subtraction problems, suggesting that finger movements and mental arithmetic are functionally related.
Keywords
mental arithmetic, finger counting, finger movement, embodied cognition, NUMERAL CONFIGURATIONS, MENTAL CALCULATION, GERSTMANN-SYNDROME, PARIETAL CORTEX, WORKING-MEMORY, NUMBER, MULTIPLICATION, REPRESENTATIONS, COMPATIBILITY, NUMEROSITY

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Michaux, Nicolas, Nicolas Masson, Mauro Pesenti, and Michael Andres. 2013. “Selective Interference of Finger Movements on Basic Addition and Subtraction Problem Solving.” Experimental Psychology 60 (3): 197–205.
APA
Michaux, N., Masson, N., Pesenti, M., & Andres, M. (2013). Selective interference of finger movements on basic addition and subtraction problem solving. EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY, 60(3), 197–205.
Vancouver
1.
Michaux N, Masson N, Pesenti M, Andres M. Selective interference of finger movements on basic addition and subtraction problem solving. EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY. 2013;60(3):197–205.
MLA
Michaux, Nicolas, Nicolas Masson, Mauro Pesenti, et al. “Selective Interference of Finger Movements on Basic Addition and Subtraction Problem Solving.” EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 60.3 (2013): 197–205. Print.
@article{3089619,
  abstract     = {Fingers offer a practical tool to represent and manipulate numbers during the acquisition of arithmetic knowledge, usually with a greater involvement in addition and subtraction than in multiplication. In adults, brain-imaging studies show that mental arithmetic increases activity in areas known for their contribution to finger movements. It is unclear, however, if this truly reflects functional interactions between the processes and/or representations controlling finger movements and those involved in mental arithmetic, or a mere anatomical proximity. In this study we assessed whether finger movements interfere with basic arithmetic problem solving, and whether this interference is specific for the operations that benefit the most from finger-based calculation strategies in childhood. In Experiment 1, we asked participants to solve addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems either with their hands at rest or while moving their right-hand fingers sequentially. The results showed that finger movements induced a selective time cost in solving addition and subtraction but not multiplication problems. In Experiment 2, we asked participants to solve the same problems while performing a sequence of foot movements. The results showed that foot movements produced a nonspecific interference with all three operations. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the specific role of finger-related processes in solving addition and subtraction problems, suggesting that finger movements and mental arithmetic are functionally related.},
  author       = {Michaux, Nicolas and Masson, Nicolas and Pesenti, Mauro and Andres, Michael},
  issn         = {1618-3169},
  journal      = {EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {197--205},
  title        = {Selective interference of finger movements on basic addition and subtraction problem solving},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000188},
  volume       = {60},
  year         = {2013},
}

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