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(2013)EXPERIMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY.60(3).p.197-205 Mark abstract Fingers offer a practical tool to represent and manipulate numbers during the acquisition of arithmetic knowledge, usually with a greater involvement in addition and subtraction than in multiplication. In adults, brain-imaging studies show that mental arithmetic increases activity in areas known for their contribution to finger movements. It is unclear, however, if this truly reflects functional interactions between the processes and/or representations controlling finger movements and those involved in mental arithmetic, or a mere anatomical proximity. In this study we assessed whether finger movements interfere with basic arithmetic problem solving, and whether this interference is specific for the operations that benefit the most from finger-based calculation strategies in childhood. In Experiment 1, we asked participants to solve addition, subtraction, and multiplication problems either with their hands at rest or while moving their right-hand fingers sequentially. The results showed that finger movements induced a selective time cost in solving addition and subtraction but not multiplication problems. In Experiment 2, we asked participants to solve the same problems while performing a sequence of foot movements. The results showed that foot movements produced a nonspecific interference with all three operations. Taken together, these findings demonstrate the specific role of finger-related processes in solving addition and subtraction problems, suggesting that finger movements and mental arithmetic are functionally related.

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Autor: Nicolas Michaux, Nicolas Masson, Mauro Pesenti and Michael Andres



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