Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 234, Issue 11, pp 3305–3319

Simple arithmetic: electrophysiological evidence of coactivation and selection of arithmetic facts

Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00221-016-4728-z

Cite this article as:
Megías, P. & Macizo, P. Exp Brain Res (2016) 234: 3305. doi:10.1007/s00221-016-4728-z


This study aimed at exploring the time course of processes underlying the associative confusion effect. We also evaluated the consequences of selecting arithmetic facts to resolve addition problems. We gathered electrophysiological evidence when participants performed a verification task. Simple addition problems were presented in blocks of two trials and participants decided whether they were correct or not. The N400-like component was considered an index of semantic access (i.e., the retrieval of arithmetic facts), and the P200 component was used to determine the difficulty associated with encoding after the answer to an addition problem. When an addition problem was incorrect but the result presented to the participant was that of multiplying the operands (e.g., 2 + 4 = 8), N400-like amplitude was reduced relative to an unrelated condition (e.g., 2 + 4 = 10). This finding suggested that the coactivation of addition and multiplication facts took place. Furthermore, the P200 amplitude was more positive when participants answered to addition problems whose result was that of multiplying the operands of the previous trial (e.g., 2 + 6 = 8). This suggests that irrelevant results were inhibited and it was difficult to encode them later.


Associative confusion effect Simple arithmetic N400 P200 Cognitive arithmetic 

Supplementary material

221_2016_4728_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)

Funding information

Funder NameGrant NumberFunding Note
Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness
  • PSI2012–32287

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Psicología Experimental, Facultad de PsicologíaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC)GranadaSpain

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