Psychophysical and neuropsychological studies have revealed that humans represent numbers along a continuous, left-to-right oriented mental line. However, it has been recently claimed that this format of representation is not special to numbers because non-numerical sequences would be spatially coded in the same way. To test this hypothesis, the present study investigated the effects of left neglect upon the bisection of numerical and non-numerical intervals. Eight patients with left neglect performed a visual line bisection task and three mental bisection tasks with number, letter, and month intervals. The error pattern in the number bisection task, indexed by the modulating effect of interval length, mirrored that of the visual task and confirmed the left-to-right spatial orientation of the mental number line. In contrast, the bisection of non-numerical intervals showed a very different pattern. The results suggest that the spatial layout characterizing numerical representations constitutes a specific property of numbers rather than a general characteristic of ordered sequences.

The spatial representation of numerical and non-numerical sequences: Evidence from neglect

ZORZI, MARCO;PRIFTIS, KONSTANTINOS;UMILTA', CARLO ARRIGO
2006

Abstract

Psychophysical and neuropsychological studies have revealed that humans represent numbers along a continuous, left-to-right oriented mental line. However, it has been recently claimed that this format of representation is not special to numbers because non-numerical sequences would be spatially coded in the same way. To test this hypothesis, the present study investigated the effects of left neglect upon the bisection of numerical and non-numerical intervals. Eight patients with left neglect performed a visual line bisection task and three mental bisection tasks with number, letter, and month intervals. The error pattern in the number bisection task, indexed by the modulating effect of interval length, mirrored that of the visual task and confirmed the left-to-right spatial orientation of the mental number line. In contrast, the bisection of non-numerical intervals showed a very different pattern. The results suggest that the spatial layout characterizing numerical representations constitutes a specific property of numbers rather than a general characteristic of ordered sequences.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11577/2436043
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