Otsuka, Y. Osaka, N. 

High-performers use the phonological loop less to process mental arithmetic during working memory tasks

Quarterly Journal of Experimental
Psychology 68, 2015 (online version)



This study investigated the effects of three working memory components–the central executive, phonological loop, and visuospatial sketchpad–on performance differences in complex mental arithmetic between individuals. Using the dual-task method, we examined how performance during two-digit
addition was affected by load on the central executive (random tapping condition), phonological loop (articulatory suppression condition), and visuospatial sketchpad (spatial tapping condition) compared to that under no load (control condition) in high- and low-performers of complex mental arithmetic in Experiment 1. Low-performers showed an increase in errors under the random tapping and articulatory suppression conditions, whereas high-performers showed an increase of errors only under the random tapping condition. In Experiment 2, we conducted similar experiments on only
the high-performers but used a shorter presentation time of each number. We found the same pattern for performing complex mental arithmetic as seen in Experiment 1. These results indicate that high-performers might reduce their dependence on the phonological loop, because the central executive enables them to choose a strategy in which they use less working memory capacity. 

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