Arithmetic facts storage deficit: the hypersensitivity-to-interference in memory hypothesis

Authors

  • Alice De Visscher,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre de Neurosciences Cognition et Système, Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
    • Address for correspondence: Alice De Visscher, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place Cardinal Mercier, 10, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium; e-mail: alice.devisscher@uclouvain.be

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  • Marie-Pascale Noël

    1. Centre de Neurosciences Cognition et Système, Institut de Recherche en Sciences Psychologiques, Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
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Abstract

Dyscalculia, or mathematics learning disorders, is currently known to be heterogeneous (Wilson & Dehaene, 2007). While various profiles of dyscalculia coexist, a general and persistent hallmark of this math learning disability is the difficulty in memorizing arithmetic facts (Geary, Hoard & Hamson, 1999; Jordan & Montani, 1997; Slade & Russel, 1971). Arithmetic facts are simple arithmetic problems that are solved by direct retrieval from memory. Recently, De Visscher and Noël (2013) showed hypersensitivity-to-interference in memory in an adult suffering from a specific deficit of arithmetic facts storage. According to the authors, arithmetic facts share many features. The overlapping of these features between arithmetic facts may provoke interference. Consequently, learners who are hypersensitive-to-interference could have considerable difficulties in storing arithmetic facts. The present study aims at testing this new hypothesis on fourth-grade children who are learning multiplication tables. Among 101 children that were assessed, 23 low arithmetic facts learners were selected because of their low score in arithmetic facts fluency (controlling for processing speed). Twenty-three control children were selected, matched for classroom, gender, and age. In addition to a subtest of global reasoning, these participants were given a multiplication production task and a memorization task of low- and high-interference associations. The results show that children with low arithmetic fluencies experience hypersensitivity-to-interference in memory compared with children with typical arithmetic fluencies.

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