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Inhibiting the Whole Number Bias in a Fraction Comparison Task: An Event-Related Potential Study

Authors Fu X, Li X, Xu P, Zeng J

Received 27 November 2019

Accepted for publication 22 February 2020

Published 6 March 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 245—255


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Mei-chun Cheung

Xinchen Fu,1,* Xiaodong Li,2,* Ping Xu,2 Jie Zeng2

1Faculty of Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, People’s Republic of China; 2School of Psychology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518060, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Xiaodong Li Tel +86 135 3811 6007

Introduction: People often use heuristics derived from natural number tasks to solve fraction comparison tasks. For instance, one may falsely consider a fraction with a larger natural number to be the larger in magnitude, as in the case of 1/5 vs 1/4. We hypothesized that inhibitory control was needed to overcome this type of bias.
Methods: To test the hypothesis, Event-related potentials (ERP) were collected when participants were conducting fraction comparison tasks that designed with the negative priming paradigm. Twenty-eight adult participants performed three types of fraction comparison tasks: congruent items, incongruent items and neutral items.
Results: We found a negative priming effect in terms of response time. Consistently, ERP results demonstrated larger N1 and N2 amplitudes and a smaller P3 amplitude in the test trial than in the control trial.
Conclusion: These findings indicated that adults still need to inhibit the “larger natural number-larger fraction” misleading strategy when solving fraction comparison tasks with common components.

Keywords: heuristics strategy, inhibitory control, fraction comparison, negative priming, event-related potential

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