Aging and Sequential Strategy Interference: A Magnetoencephalography Study in Arithmetic Problem Solving


  • Roquet Angelique
  • Hinault Thomas
  • Badier Jean-Michel
  • Lemaire Patrick


  • Aging
  • Strategy execution
  • Arithmetic
  • Cognitive control
  • Magnetoencephalography

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This study investigated age-related changes in the neural bases of sequential strategy interference. Sequential strategy interference refers to decreased strategy interference (i.e., poorer performance when the cued strategy is not the best) after executing a poorer strategy relative to after a better strategy. Young and older adults performed a computational estimation task (e.g., providing approximate products to two-digit multiplication problems, like 38 x 74) and were matched on behavioral sequential strategy interference effects. Analyses of magnetoencephalography (MEG) data revealed differences between young and older adults in brain activities underlying sequential strategy interference. More specifically, relative to young adults, older adults showed additional recruitments in frontal, temporal, and parietal regions. Also, age-related differences were found in the temporal dynamics of brain activations, with modulations occurring both earlier and later in older than young adults. These results suggest that highly functioning older adults rely on additional mechanisms to process sequential strategy interference as efficiently as young adults. Our findings inform mechanisms by which highly functioning older adults obtain as good performance as young adults, and suggest that these older adults may compensate deleterious effects of aging to efficiently execute arithmetic strategies.

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