What does EEG tell us about arithmetic strategies? A review


  • Hinault Thomas
  • Lemaire Patrick

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Arithmetic strategies refer to the set of procedures used to solve arithmetic problems. Previous studies revealed that participants can solve arithmetic problems by using several arithmetic strategies. In this review, we discuss the added value of using electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate such strategies. Indeed, this technique enables to delineate different aspects of information processing, and can further our understanding of arithmetic strategies. The investigation of processes involved within arithmetic strategies with event-related potentials (ERPs) and frequency analyses allows to discover how participants solve different types of problems by enabling to distinguish arithmetic strategies on the bases of their electrophysiological signatures. Moreover, this technique is fruitful to investigate the time course of arithmetic strategy selection and execution. EEG can also help to investigate the role of general cognitive processes during execution of arithmetic strategies. Finally, EEG is also a powerful tool to specify how strategy use differs between groups of different skills or ages. Overall, by addressing these ends, EEG further our understanding of variations in participants' arithmetic performance as a function of different characteristics, such as participants' (e.g., age, skills), problems' (e.g., problem or split size, rule violation), or situations' (e.g., strategy execution on previous problems, correctness of proposed answers) characteristics. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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