Inhibition and Mathematical Performance: Poorly Correlated, Poorly Measured, or Poorly Matched?

Kerry Lee*, Hon Wah Lee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Inhibition is an important aspect of executive functioning (EF) that refers to a cognitive mechanism that blocks or suppresses irrelevant stimuli, memory, habitual responses, or automatized processes from interrupting the desired response. Researchers have found weak and inconsistent relations between inhibitory abilities and mathematics performance (Bull & Lee, 2014). Given anecdotal evidence of the effects of external distraction or intruding thoughts on the ability to stay on task, it is surprising that inhibitory abilities do not have a more prominent role. In this article, we argue that this lower-than-expected association is due to (a) age-related changes in EF, (b) the sensitivity of inhibitory tasks commonly used in studies, (c) a mismatch in how susceptibility to interference and mathematical performance are measured, and (d) the choice of criterion measures, with some mathematical tasks imposing less inhibitory demands than others.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-33
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • inhibition
  • interference

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Inhibition and Mathematical Performance: Poorly Correlated, Poorly Measured, or Poorly Matched?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this