Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

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.

PDF - Authors' Version
Download (285kB)
Link to Published Version:
*Subscription may be required


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.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Psychology
Publisher: Elsevier
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year