Age-related changes in strategic variations during arithmetic problem solving: The role of executive control

Prog Brain Res. 2016;227:257-76. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2016.03.009. Epub 2016 Apr 18.


In this review, we provide an overview of how age-related changes in executive control influence aging effects in arithmetic processing. More specifically, we consider the role of executive control in strategic variations with age during arithmetic problem solving. Previous studies found that age-related differences in arithmetic performance are associated with strategic variations. That is, when they accomplish arithmetic problem-solving tasks, older adults use fewer strategies than young adults, use strategies in different proportions, and select and execute strategies less efficiently. Here, we review recent evidence, suggesting that age-related changes in inhibition, cognitive flexibility, and working memory processes underlie age-related changes in strategic variations during arithmetic problem solving. We discuss both behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying age-related changes in these executive control processes.

Keywords: Aging; Arithmetic; Executive control; Sequential modulations; Strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Inhibition, Psychological
  • Mathematics*
  • Problem Solving / physiology*