Title: Oscillatory EEG correlates of arithmetic strategies: a training study
Authors: Grabner, Roland * ×
De Smedt, Bert * #
Issue Date: 19-Oct-2012
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Series Title: Frontiers in Psychology vol:3
Article number: 428
Abstract: There has been a long tradition of research on mathematics education showing that children
and adults use different strategies to solve arithmetic problems. Neurophysiological
studies have recently begun to investigate the brain correlates of these strategies. The
existing body of data, however, reflect static end points of the learning process and do
not provide information on how brain activity changes in response to training or intervention.
In this study, we explicitly address this issue by training participants in using fact
retrieval strategies. We also investigate whether brain activity related to arithmetic fact
learning is domain-specific or whether this generalizes to other learning materials, such
as the solution of figural-spatial problems. Twenty adult students were trained on sets of
two-digit multiplication problems and figural-spatial problems. After the training, they were
presented with the trained and untrained problems while their brain activity was recorded
by means of electroencephalography (EEG). In both problem types, the training resulted
in accuracies over 90% and significant decreases in solution times. Analyses of the oscillatory
EEG data also revealed training effects across both problem types. Specifically, we
observed training-related activity increases in the theta band (3–6 Hz) and decreases in
the lower alpha band (8–10 Hz), especially over parietooccipital and parietal brain regions.
These results provide the first evidence that a short-term fact retrieval training results in
significant changes in oscillatory EEG activity. These findings further corroborate the role
of the theta band in the retrieval of semantic information from memory and suggest that
theta activity is sensitive to fact retrieval not only in mental arithmetic but also in other
ISSN: 1664-1078
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Parenting and Special Education
* (joint) first author
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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