Activation of the Anterior Prefrontal Cortex by Abacus Activity in Children: A Case Study on the Effect of Moderate Load Training on Working Memory

  •  Watanabe Nobuki    


Much attention has been paid to the enhancement of working memory, which can improve children’s lives. Part of the value of working memory training is that it activates the prefrontal cortex. Therefore, it is important to determine the parts of the prefrontal cortex that are activated by working memory training. While there is much evidence that mental abacus effectively trains working memory, few studies have assessed whether the abacus (Soroban) in Japan should be considered an effective training approach for working memory and if it activates the prefrontal cortex. Therefore, in this case study, a 16-channel functional near-infrared spectroscopy device (OEG-16H, Spectratech, Japan) was used to compare brain activation during the abacus task using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children Working Memory Index tasks (i.e., digit span (forward), digit span (backward), letter–number sequencing, and picture span tasks). First-grade boys and fifth-grade girls participated in this study. The results revealed that the anterior part of the prefrontal cortex was specifically activated by the abacus task. These findings support the possibility that the abacus activity is an effective training approach for working memory.

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