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Role of Working Memory Capacity in Both Mathematical and Creative Problem Solving

by Savitha C Muppala on August 10, 2012 at 8:06 PM
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 Role of Working Memory Capacity in Both Mathematical and Creative Problem Solving

Our working memory capacity is decidedly finite - it reflects our ability to focus and control attention and strongly influences our ability to solve problems.

In a new study, Jennifer Wiley and Andrew Jarosz of the University of Illinois at Chicago have explored the role of working memory capacity in both mathematical and creative problem solving.

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Converging evidence from many psychological science studies suggests that high working memory capacity is associated with better performance at mathematical problem-solving.

In fact, decreased working memory capacity may be one reason why math anxiety leads to poor math performance. Overall, working memory capacity seems to help analytical problem-solvers focus their attention and resist distraction.
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However, these very features of working memory capacity seem to impair creative problem-solving. With creative problems, reaching a solution may require an original approach or a novel combination of diverse pieces of information. As a result, too much focus may actually impair creative problem solving.

The researchers noted that, in the real world, problems are not always distinctly divided into analytic and creative types - successful problem solving depends on the needs of a given situation.

The study has been described in a new article in the August issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Source: ANI
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