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The role of working memory slave systems in children’s addition

Walukiewicz, Paulina (2010) The role of working memory slave systems in children’s addition. Northumbria University.

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Abstract

The current study used a dual-task design to investigate the roles of the phonological loop and visuo-spatial sketchpad components of working memory in children’s addition. The aims of the experiment were to test whether concurrent visuo-spatial and phonological loop tasks disrupt performance on vertically or horizontally presented arithmetic tasks. Twenty-three 9- and 10- year old primary school children completed sixteen single and double digit additions on a computer under three conditions: baseline, concurrent visuo-spatial load or concurrent phonological load. The results revealed a non-significant effect of concurrent working memory load on mathematical task performance. However, the addition tasks significantly impaired the accuracy of recall on both visuo-spatial and phonological working memory tasks compared to baseline. This pattern of data suggests an active role of working memory in the multi-step process of solving simple addition problems in school children.

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