Working Memory Load and Automaticity in Relation to Mental Addition in College Students

Ruhee Laila Sutar, Fordham University


Mathematical cognition is one of the leading indicators of a student’s academic achievement (both for children and adults), whereby low performance is often considered a learning disability that requires swift intervention. The available literature shows that two factors determine an individual’s level of arithmetic performance, which includes processing of the information in working memory (short-term/recent memory) and organization of simple arithmetic facts in long-term memory. Researchers often examine the role of working memory as a leading determinant of successful completion of mental arithmetic in K-12 population; however, there was significantly less evidence-based literature about the role of working memory in mental arithmetic performance in the adult-aged population. This research aims to examine the contribution of working memory load (WML) and automaticity on mental addition in college level adults, and how these effects may be associated with academic performance. Results suggest that WML has an influence on response time and that automaticity has an effect on response time when WML is high. Further, it suggests that automaticity plays a minor role in accuracy for simple arithmetic, but WML affects accuracy when performing simple tasks such as single- and double-digit arithmetic. Consequently, future research should focus on the interaction between WML and automaticity on complex mental arithmetic problems.

Subject Area

Cognitive psychology

Recommended Citation

Sutar, Ruhee Laila, "Working Memory Load and Automaticity in Relation to Mental Addition in College Students" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27737135.