The role of mathematical anxiety and working memory on the performance of different types of arithmetic tasks

Le rôle de l'anxiété et de la mémoire de travail sur la performance dans différentes tâches mathématiques

SCIENTIFIC ARTICLE / ARTICLE SCIENTIFIQUE

Ashkenazi, S., & Danan, Y. (2017). The role of mathematical anxiety and working memory on the performance of different types of arithmetic tasks. Trends in Neuroscience and Education7, 1-10.

DOI: 10.1016/j.tine.2017.05.001

Abstract

Goal of the current study was to compare the respective roles of domain general cognitive skills with domain specific quantitative understanding, as well as the effect of math anxiety, on the performance of different types of arithmetic tasks. Fifty-eight adults performed a battery of tests. We found dissociations between domain general abilities that supported verbally or spatially mediated arithmetic tasks. The verbally mediated tasks were supported by the verbal central executive component of working memory, while the spatially mediated task, number line knowledge, was supported by the spatial central executive component of working memory. Different tasks had differential relationships with math anxiety: math anxiety effected school-like math tasks more than verbally mediated tasks and number line task. Math anxiety was negatively influenced by the spatial central executive component of working memory, indicating that spatial working memory can be a source of vulnerability to math anxiety.

Keywords
Working memory; Mathematical anxiety; Approximate number sense; Arithmetic; Verbal code of number