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Intentional and automatic numerical processing as predictors of mathematical abilities in primary school children.

Pina V, Castillo A, Cohen Kadosh R, Fuentes LJ - Front Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: Participants were tested in an ample range of mathematical tests and also performed both a numerical and a size comparison task.The results showed that numerical processing related to mathematical performance only when inhibitory control was involved in the comparison tasks.Concretely, we found that intentional numerical processing, as indexed by the numerical distance effect in the numerical comparison task, was related to mathematical reasoning skills only when the task-irrelevant dimension (the physical size) was incongruent; whereas automatic numerical processing, indexed by the congruency effect in the size comparison task, was related to mathematical calculation skills only when digits were separated by small distance.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Departamento de Psicología Básica y Metodología, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia Spain.

ABSTRACT
Previous studies have suggested that numerical processing relates to mathematical performance, but it seems that such relationship is more evident for intentional than for automatic numerical processing. In the present study we assessed the relationship between the two types of numerical processing and specific mathematical abilities in a sample of 109 children in grades 1-6. Participants were tested in an ample range of mathematical tests and also performed both a numerical and a size comparison task. The results showed that numerical processing related to mathematical performance only when inhibitory control was involved in the comparison tasks. Concretely, we found that intentional numerical processing, as indexed by the numerical distance effect in the numerical comparison task, was related to mathematical reasoning skills only when the task-irrelevant dimension (the physical size) was incongruent; whereas automatic numerical processing, indexed by the congruency effect in the size comparison task, was related to mathematical calculation skills only when digits were separated by small distance. The observed double dissociation highlights the relevance of both intentional and automatic numerical processing in mathematical skills, but when inhibitory control is also involved.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Data from the comparison tasks. (A) Percentage of errors for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (B) Mean reaction times (RTs) for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (C) Transformed scores for the distance effect in the numerical comparison task [(small distance RTs – large distance RTs)/large distance RTs]∗100. (D) Numerical Stroop effect as a function of numerical distance in the size comparison task (Incongruent RTs – Congruent RTs). Error bars (1 SE of the mean) are shown as vertical lines.
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Figure 1: Data from the comparison tasks. (A) Percentage of errors for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (B) Mean reaction times (RTs) for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (C) Transformed scores for the distance effect in the numerical comparison task [(small distance RTs – large distance RTs)/large distance RTs]∗100. (D) Numerical Stroop effect as a function of numerical distance in the size comparison task (Incongruent RTs – Congruent RTs). Error bars (1 SE of the mean) are shown as vertical lines.

Mentions: The error analysis showed significant main effects of size congruency [F(1,135) = 107.66, p < 0.00001; = 0.44], numerical distance [F(1,135) = 57.90, p < 0.00001; = 0.30], and age [F(6,135) = 4.88, p < 0.00001; = 0.18]. Larger percentage of errors was found in both incongruent and small distance conditions compared with congruent and large distance conditions. That is, the standard size congruency and numerical distance effects were observed. Also, undergraduates committed fewer errors than children, and children of different ages did not show significant differences in errors. However, the advantage of the undergraduates over the children was observed only in the incongruent condition, a result that was supported by the significant size congruency × age interaction [F(6,135) = 2.18, p = 0.049; = 0.09; Figure 1A]. None of the remaining interactions were statistically significant.


Intentional and automatic numerical processing as predictors of mathematical abilities in primary school children.

Pina V, Castillo A, Cohen Kadosh R, Fuentes LJ - Front Psychol (2015)

Data from the comparison tasks. (A) Percentage of errors for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (B) Mean reaction times (RTs) for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (C) Transformed scores for the distance effect in the numerical comparison task [(small distance RTs – large distance RTs)/large distance RTs]∗100. (D) Numerical Stroop effect as a function of numerical distance in the size comparison task (Incongruent RTs – Congruent RTs). Error bars (1 SE of the mean) are shown as vertical lines.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4379738&req=5

Figure 1: Data from the comparison tasks. (A) Percentage of errors for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (B) Mean reaction times (RTs) for the size congruency conditions in the numerical comparison task. (C) Transformed scores for the distance effect in the numerical comparison task [(small distance RTs – large distance RTs)/large distance RTs]∗100. (D) Numerical Stroop effect as a function of numerical distance in the size comparison task (Incongruent RTs – Congruent RTs). Error bars (1 SE of the mean) are shown as vertical lines.
Mentions: The error analysis showed significant main effects of size congruency [F(1,135) = 107.66, p < 0.00001; = 0.44], numerical distance [F(1,135) = 57.90, p < 0.00001; = 0.30], and age [F(6,135) = 4.88, p < 0.00001; = 0.18]. Larger percentage of errors was found in both incongruent and small distance conditions compared with congruent and large distance conditions. That is, the standard size congruency and numerical distance effects were observed. Also, undergraduates committed fewer errors than children, and children of different ages did not show significant differences in errors. However, the advantage of the undergraduates over the children was observed only in the incongruent condition, a result that was supported by the significant size congruency × age interaction [F(6,135) = 2.18, p = 0.049; = 0.09; Figure 1A]. None of the remaining interactions were statistically significant.

Bottom Line: Participants were tested in an ample range of mathematical tests and also performed both a numerical and a size comparison task.The results showed that numerical processing related to mathematical performance only when inhibitory control was involved in the comparison tasks.Concretely, we found that intentional numerical processing, as indexed by the numerical distance effect in the numerical comparison task, was related to mathematical reasoning skills only when the task-irrelevant dimension (the physical size) was incongruent; whereas automatic numerical processing, indexed by the congruency effect in the size comparison task, was related to mathematical calculation skills only when digits were separated by small distance.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Departamento de Psicología Básica y Metodología, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia Spain.

ABSTRACT
Previous studies have suggested that numerical processing relates to mathematical performance, but it seems that such relationship is more evident for intentional than for automatic numerical processing. In the present study we assessed the relationship between the two types of numerical processing and specific mathematical abilities in a sample of 109 children in grades 1-6. Participants were tested in an ample range of mathematical tests and also performed both a numerical and a size comparison task. The results showed that numerical processing related to mathematical performance only when inhibitory control was involved in the comparison tasks. Concretely, we found that intentional numerical processing, as indexed by the numerical distance effect in the numerical comparison task, was related to mathematical reasoning skills only when the task-irrelevant dimension (the physical size) was incongruent; whereas automatic numerical processing, indexed by the congruency effect in the size comparison task, was related to mathematical calculation skills only when digits were separated by small distance. The observed double dissociation highlights the relevance of both intentional and automatic numerical processing in mathematical skills, but when inhibitory control is also involved.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus