Semantic Processing in Fraction Comparison: An ERP Study

AbstractFractions processing is a topic of major interest both in numerical cognition and mathematics education. The literature on the processing of common fractions has focused on whether fractions are compared by their magnitude or through their components. Only a few neuroimaging studies have looked at this question. The N400 component, traditionally seen in linguistic semantic congruency event-related-potential (ERPs) experimental designs, has been adapted to study arithmetic processing. Observing the N400, allows the study of how different arithmetic components affect overall processing. In this study, an N400 paradigm is used to investigate semantic congruency during a fraction magnitude comparison task (Match/Mismatch) in 24 adults. Behavioral results reveal interference by shared components across the compared fractions. EEG analysis results show an N400-like difference wave between Match and Mismatch conditions. Shared components modulate the latency of this N400 effect. These results show the N400 as a viable method for studying fractions.

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