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Assessment of auditory working memory in children with abacus training

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Abacus involves remembering multiple numbers and calculations, and thus auditory working memory is getting trained. Hence, auditory working memory could be enhanced in children who practice working memory. In the present study, it is attempted to examine the difference in the auditory working memory of the children with abacus training and children without abacus training.


The study was carried out to compare the score and reaction time for digit forward test, digit backward, ascending digit span and descending digit span test in individuals with and without abacus training and to correlate the level of abacus training with the scores and reaction time for all the tests in individuals with abacus training. The participants were divided based on those with and without abacus training between the age of 9–13 years. The children with the abacus training group were taking intensive abacus training in the range of 2–4 years.


The results of the study revealed that children with abacus training had significantly better reaction time and scores than children without abacus training with effect size between 0.73 and 0.91 which suggests a strong difference. The results also showed moderate to strong correlation (r = 0.53–0.84) between the abacus levels and scores and reaction time for the auditory working memory tests.


The results agree with previous studies, which also report superior auditory performance and enhanced auditory working memory in children with abacus training.

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The authors acknowledge with gratitude Prof. M Pushpavathi, Director, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing, Mysore, for permitting to conduct the study at the institute. The authors also like to acknowledge the participant for co-operation.


There is no funding by any agency for the manuscript.

Author information

MSR was involved in study design, stimulus preparation, data collection, analysis of the data, interpretation and writing the manuscript; KS was involved in study design, data collection, analysis of the results and writing the manuscript; and PP was involved in concept development, study design, data collection, analysis of the results and writing the manuscript.

Correspondence to Prashanth Prabhu.

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Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was obtained from the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH) Ethical Review board for carrying out the study. The manuscript adheres to the ethical standards according to the Declartion of Helsinki.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from the patient to participate in the study.

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Roy, M.S., Swarna, K. & Prabhu, P. Assessment of auditory working memory in children with abacus training. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00405-020-05840-z

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  • Abacus training
  • Neuroplasticity
  • Working memory
  • Children