Strategic differences in algebraic problem solving: Neuroanatomical correlates

Kerry LEE, Zee Ying LIM, Stephanie H. M. YEONG, Swee Fong NG, Vinod VENKATRAMAN, Michael W. L. CHEE

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37 Citations (Scopus)


In this study, we built on previous neuroimaging studies of mathematical cognition and examined whether the same cognitive processes are engaged by two strategies used in algebraic problem solving. We focused on symbolic algebra, which uses alphanumeric equations to represent problems, and the model method, which uses pictorial representation. Eighteen adults, matched on academic proficiency and competency in the two methods, transformed algebraic word problems into equations or models, and validated presented solutions. Both strategies were associated with activation of areas linked to working memory and quantitative processing. These included the left frontal gyri, and bilateral activation of the intraparietal sulci. Contrasting the two strategies, the symbolic method activated the posterior superior parietal lobules and the precuneus. These findings suggest that the two strategies are effected using similar processes but impose different attentional demands. Copyright © 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-171
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 2007


Lee, K., Lim, Z. Y., Yeong, S. H. M., Ng, S. F., Venkatraman, V., & Chee, M. W. L. (2007). Strategic differences in algebraic problem solving: Neuroanatomical correlates. Brain Research, 1155, 163-171. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2007.04.040


  • fMRI
  • Mathematics
  • Problem solving
  • Algebra
  • Attentional resource


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