Brain dynamics of mathematical problem solving

Chun Ling Lin*, Melody Jung, Ying Choon Wu, Chin-Teng Lin, Hsiao-Ching She

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to examine brain activities of participants solving mental math problems. The research investigated how problem difficulty affected the subjects' responses and electroencephalogram (EEG) in different brain regions. In general, it was found that solution latencies (SL) to the math problems increased with difficulty. The EEG results showed that across subjects, the right-central beta, left-parietal theta, left-occipital theta and alpha, right-parietal alpha and beta, medial-frontal beta and medial central theta power decreased as task difficulty increased. This study further explored the effects of problem-solving performance on the EEG. Slow solvers exhibited greater frontal theta activities in the right hemisphere, whereas an inverse pattern of hemispheric asymmetry was found in fast solvers. Furthermore, analyses of spatio-temporal brain dynamics during problem solving show progressively stronger alpha- and beta-power suppression and theta-power augmentation as subjects were reaching a solution. These findings provide a better understanding of cortical activities mediating math-based problem solving and knowledge acquisition that can ultimately benefit math learning and education.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2012 Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBC 2012
Pages4768-4771
Number of pages4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012
Event34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS 2012 - San Diego, CA, United States
Duration: 28 Aug 20121 Sep 2012

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS
ISSN (Print)1557-170X

Conference

Conference34th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Diego, CA
Period28/08/121/09/12

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