Poster F107, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Children Engage Semantic Processes to Verify Arithmetic Facts: Evidence from the N400
Amandine E. Grenier1, Vanessa Cerda1, Danielle S. Dickson1, Bianca O. Obinyan1, Jacob P. Momsen2,3, Nicole Y.Y. Wicha1; 1The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2University of California San Diego, 3San Diego State University
Arithmetic facts, like multiplication tables, are thought to be encoded into verbal memory, and children who develop a memory retrieval strategy perform better in math through high school. Semantic memory retrieval is usually indexed by a modulation of the N400 component. However, when adults verify the solution to simple multiplication problems (2x3=6 versus 2x3=7), correct solutions elicit a P300. The adult P300 may reflect the overlearning of math facts, wherein the correct solutions are interpreted as target items. This study measured ERPs in children during a similar multiplication verification task to examine cognitive processing in early stages of learning math facts. Third through fifth graders judged the correctness of multiplication problems. Each problem was presented one number at a time, as Arabic numerals with no symbols (e.g., 2 4 8). Half of the solutions were correct and half were incorrect (e.g., 2 4 12). Results show that both correct and incorrect solutions elicit an N400, with larger (more negative) amplitude for the incorrect solutions. This N400 pattern is similar to what is observed when people process the meaning of words in a sentence. No P300 was observed for correct solutions, indicating that the development of this skill continues after fifth grade. This ERP pattern may reflect that children rely more on semantic level processes than adults when verifying math facts.
Topic Area: THINKING: Development & aging