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Event-related potentials for simple arithmetic in Arabic digits and Chinese number words: a study of the mental representation of arithmetic facts through notation and operation effects

  • Author(s): Zhou, X
  • Chen, C
  • Qiao, S
  • Chen, C
  • Chen, L
  • Lu, N
  • Dong, Q
  • et al.
Abstract

To test whether the retrieval of arithmetic facts is independent of numerical notations, this study investigated the event-related potentials elicited by single-digit addition and multiplication problems in Arabic digits and Chinese number words. The results showed that, in comparison with addition, multiplication elicited a greater N300-like component at the left anterior electrodes and greater late positive potentials at the right posterior electrodes, regardless of numerical notations. The operation effects lasted from 250 to 900 ms for Arabic digits, but from 250 to 1400 ms for Chinese number words when participants were asked to respond only to false arithmetic equations (experiment one), and lasted from 350 to 1400 ms for Arabic digits and Chinese number words when participants were asked to respond to both true and false arithmetic equations (experiment two). The consistency in the operation effects in ERPs (i.e., a dissociation of brain organization for different arithmetic operations) for different number notations suggests that mental representation and retrieval of arithmetic facts may be relatively independent of numerical notations. © 2009 Elsevier B.V.

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