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Mental representations of arithmetic facts: Evidence from eye movement recordings supports the preferred operand-order-specific representation hypothesis


There are three main hypotheses about mental representations of arithmetic facts: the independent representation hypothesis, the operand-order-free single-representation hypothesis, and the operand-order-specific single-representation hypothesis. The current study used electrical recordings of eye movements to examine the organization of arithmetic facts in long-term memory. Subjects were presented single-digit addition and multiplication problems and were asked to report the solutions. Analyses of the horizontal electrooculograph (HEOG) showed an operand order effect for multiplication in the time windows 150-300 ms (larger negative potentials for smaller operand first problems than for larger operand first ones). The operand order effect was reversed in the time windows from 400 to 1,000 ms (i.e., larger operand first problems had larger negative potentials than smaller operand first problems). For addition, larger operand first problems had larger negative potentials than smaller operand first in the series of time windows from 300 to 1,000 ms, but the effect was smaller than that for multiplication. These results confirmed the dissociated representation of addition and multiplication facts and were consistent with the prediction of the preferred operand-order-specific representation hypothesis.

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