Impact of optokinetic stimulation on mental arithmetic
Solving arithmetic problems has been shown to induce shifts of spatial attention, subtraction problems orienting attention to the left side, and addition problems to the right side of space. At the neurofunctional level, the activations elicited by the solving of arithmetical problems resemble those elicited by horizontal eye movements. Whether overt orientation of attention (i.e., eye movements) can be linked to the solving procedure is, however, still under debate. In the present study, we used optokinetic stimulation (OKS) to trigger automatic eye movements to orient participants’ overt attention to the right or to the left of their visual field while they were solving addition or subtraction problems. The results show that, in comparison to leftward OKS and a control condition, rightward OKS facilitates the solving of addition problems that necessitate a carrying procedure. Subtraction solving was unaffected by leftward or rightward OKS. These results converge with previous findings to show that attentional shifts are functionally related to mental arithmetic processing.
KeywordsSpatial Attention Mental Arithmetic Arithmetic Problem Neglect Patient Subtraction Problem
We thank Laurie Geers and Madeline Slÿpen for their help in data collection.
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