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Simple arithmetic processing: The question of automaticity

Jackson, N.D. and Coney, J.R. (2005) Simple arithmetic processing: The question of automaticity. Acta Psychologica, 119 (1). pp. 41-66.

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    Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2004.10.018
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    Abstract

    In adult simple arithmetic performance, it is commonly held that retrieval of solutions occurs automatically from a network of stored facts in memory. However, such an account of performance necessarily predicts a uniform reaction time for solution retrieval and is therefore not consistent with the robust finding that reaction time increases with problem size and difficulty. Additionally, past research into arithmetic performance has relied on tasks that may have actually induced and measured attentional processing, thereby possibly confounding previous results and conclusions pertaining to automaticity. The present study therefore, attempted to more reliably assess the influence of automatic processing in arithmetic performance by utilizing a variant of the well-established semantic word-priming procedure with a target-naming task. The overall results revealed significant facilitation in naming times at SOAs of 240 and 1000 ms for congruent targets i.e., targets that represented the correct solutions to problems presented as primes (e.g., 6 + 8 and 14). Significant inhibition in comparison to a neutral condition (0 + 0 and 17) was also observed at 120 and 240 ms SOAs in naming incongruent targets (e.g., 6 + 8 and 17). Furthermore, response times were found to vary as a function of both arithmetic fluency and problem size. Differences in performance to addition and multiplication operations and implications for cognitive research and education are considered.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Psychology
    Publisher: Elsevier
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/1494
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