Dr. Adbrizi explains that when children practice tasks such as mental arithmetic, they become automatic and unconscious, freeing up space in working memory for more complex calculations. Our ability to perform arithmetic operations depends to a large extent on working memory, that is, on the manipulation and maintenance of information. Previous research has demonstrated that, in adults, procedural strategies, in particular counting, rely to a greater extent on working memory than on recovery strategies.
During childhood, there are changes in the types of strategies used, as well as an increase in the precision and efficiency of the implementation of strategies. As such, it seems likely that the role of working memory in arithmetic may also change; however, it has never been directly compared to children and adults. This study used the traditional two-task methodology, to which a control load condition was added, to investigate the extent to which the working memory requirements for different arithmetic strategies change with age between 9 and 11 years, between 12 and 14 years, and in early adulthood. We have demonstrated that both children and adults use working memory to solve arithmetic problems, regardless of the strategy they choose.
This study highlights the importance of considering working memory to understand the difficulties that some children and adults have with mathematics, as well as the need to include working memory in theoretical models of mathematical cognition.