ERP measures of math anxiety: how math anxiety affects working memory and mental calculation tasks?

Manousos A. Klados*, Panagiotis Simos, Sifis Micheloyannis, Daniel Margulies, Panagiotis D. Bamidis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There have been several attempts to account for the impact of Mathematical Anxiety (MA) on brain activity with variable results. The present study examines the effects of MA on ERP amplitude during performance of simple arithmetic calculations and working memory tasks. Data were obtained from 32 university students as they solved four types of arithmetic problems (one- and two-digit addition and multiplication) and a working memory task comprised of three levels of difficulty (1, 2, and 3-back task). Compared to the Low-MA group, High-MA individuals demonstrated reduced ERP amplitude at frontocentral (between 180-320 ms) and centroparietal locations (between 380-420 ms). These effects were independent of task difficulty/complexity, individual performance, and general state/trait anxiety levels. Results support the hypothesis that higher levels of self-reported MA are associated with lower cortical activation during the early stages of the processing of numeric stimuli in the context of cognitive tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number282
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015 Klados, Simos, Micheloyannis, Margulies and Bamidis. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


  • EEG
  • ERPs
  • Mathematical anxiety
  • Mathematical cognition
  • Mental calculations
  • Working memory


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