Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci.  2015 Aug;13(2):163-167. 10.9758/cpn.2015.13.2.163.

Association between Abacus Training and Improvement in Response Inhibition: A Case-control Study

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Incheon, Korea.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital, Bucheon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Industrial and Advertising Psychology, Daejeon University, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 4Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies, Yongin, Korea.


The abacus, first used in Asian countries more than 800 years ago, enables efficient arithmetic calculation via visuo-spatial configuration. We investigated whether abacus-trained children performed better on cognitive tasks and demonstrated higher levels of arithmetic abilities compared to those without such training.
We recruited 75 elementary school children (43 abacus-trained and 32 not so trained). Attention, memory, and arithmetic abilities were measured, and we compared the abacus with the control group.
Children who had learned to use an abacus committed fewer commission errors and showed better arithmetic ability than did controls. We found no significant differences between children with and without abacus training in other areas of attention.
We speculate that abacus training improves response inhibition via neuroanatomical alterations of the areas that regulate such functions. Further studies are needed to confirm the association between abacus training and better response inhibition.


Cognitive science; Attention; Inhibition; Child; Mathematics
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