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Acta Psychologica Sinica    2017, Vol. 49 Issue (6) : 759-770     DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2017.00759
 Age-related differences of different components of working memory: The predictive effect on strategy utilization in arithmetic
 DING Xiao; LV Na; YANG Yalin; SI Jiwei
 (School of Psychology, Shandong Normal University, Jinan 250358, China)
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Abstract   Arithmetic strategy utilization study is one of research hotspots for mathematical education, which relates to the studies of teaching, psychology, decision-making and so on. Studies showed that arithmetic strategy utilization can predict people’s arithmetic performance and was affected by task characteristics, problem situation, strategy adaptability, cognitive ability, emotion, individual development, etc. Accompany with the deep researches about working memory, more and more evidences indicated that working memory, as a higher level cognitive processing, affected arithmetic strategy utilization. However, those findings did not reach a stable consistency. Consequently, the present study explored the predictive effect of different components of working memory on computational estimation for people with different ages. The present study adopted the choice/no choice paradigm to explore how working memory affected individuals’ arithmetic strategy utilization (including strategy selection and strategy execution) by means of the AWMA and two-digit arithmetic estimation tasks. A total of 53 participants in grade 4 (M = 10.09 years), 49 participants in grade 6 (M = 12.18 years) and 52 undergraduate students (M = 24.40 years) were recruited in this study. The whole experiments included two parts, the AWMA and two-digit arithmetic estimation tasks, which were measured separately, and each participant was asked to complete these tests individually. Major findings were as followings: (1) Significant correlation was obtained between different components of working memory and participants’ age. Except visuo-spatial sketchpad, all the components scores of working memory improved significantly accompany with the growth of their ages. (2) In arithmetic strategy utilization, strategy selection was related with age. It showed that arithmetic strategy selection performances of participants improved significantly with the growth of their ages. (3) For participants with different ages, the different relationships were found between different components of working memory and strategy selection. A significant predictive effect was found for central executive component of working memory. Nevertheless, phonological loop and visuo-spatial sketchpad failed to reach the significant level. More vitally, all participants’ scores in AWMA and strategy execution test at all ages didn’t show significant relationships. In conclusion, age influenced the performance of working memory central executive and phonological loop, and the performance in the strategy selection tasks was promoted along with the growth of the age. Moreover, central executive, but not phonological loop and visuo-spatial sketchpad, has a predictive effect on arithmetic strategy selection for all of people with different ages. Such an effect was not found for different components of working memory on the prediction of individuals’ strategy execution at all ages. These findings have important theoretical implications for understanding the mechanism of working memory system in the use of arithmetic strategies.
Keywords  strategy utilization      working memory      central executive      age-related differences     
  B849: G44  
Corresponding Authors: SI Jiwei, E-mail:     E-mail: E-mail:
Just Accepted Date: 27 April 2017  
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DING Xiao,LV Na,YANG Yalin, et al.  Age-related differences of different components of working memory: The predictive effect on strategy utilization in arithmetic[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 2017, 49(6): 759-770.
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