Automatic activation of multiplication facts: Evidence from the nodes adjacent to the product

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Adult observers are widely assumed to be equipped with a specific memory store containing arithmetic facts. The present study was aimed at exploring the possibility of obtaining an automatic activation of multiplication facts by using the number-matching paradigm (LeFevre, Bisanz, & Mrkonjic, 1988), in which mental arithmetic is task irrelevant. In particular, we were interested in exploring whether the nodes that precede or follow the product node in the multiplication table can also be automatically activated as a consequence of the mere presentation of two numbers. In Experiments 1 and 2, we showed that participants were slower in responding “no” to probes that were numbers adjacent to the product in the table related to the first operand of the initial pair than to probes that were unrelated to the initial pair. In Experiments 3 and 4, we showed a similar pattern for probes that were numbers adjacent to the product in the table related to the second operand of the initial pair. Experiments 5 and 6 ruled out alternative accounts and confirmed the results of the previous experiments. Taken together the present findings suggest that multiplication facts are stored in a highly related network in which activation spreads from the product node to adjacent nodes.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Padua, Padua, Italy

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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