Thèse de doctorat
Résumé : Arithmetic abilities are required when solving problems such as “3x4” or “24+33” and are important for many everyday life situations: for instance, to make a recipe or to pay at the store. Given the high incidence of arithmetic difficulties throughout development, the acquisition of arithmetic abilities received much attention in field of numerical cognition. However, although fundamental, only a handful of studies (e.g. Geary & Wiley, 1991) investigated the impact of normal aging on arithmetic problem solving.Therefore the question of whether and how arithmetic abilities are affected by the decline of cognitive processing remains poorly understood. The aim of the current thesis was to fill in this gap and to investigate whether and how arithmetic abilities as well as the related executive functions change when aging. Our results showed that the deficit with age in arithmetic abilities and related executive functions is not general but specific to the executive function under investigation. Moreover, our findings suggest that these executive functions could be specific to the arithmetic domain and not an instance of a more general executive system.In our view, this thesis constitutes an initial step towards enhancing our comprehension of the impact of age on executive functions in the arithmetic domain and its potential specificity with other domains. However, especially because of the lack of studies directly addressing these issues, the results reported here need to be replicated to strengthen our conclusions. In this respect, we believed that the DDM could help to specify exactly which cognitive processes remain intact with age and which become deficient.