The Association Between Number Magnitude and Space Is Dependent on Notation: Evidence From an Adaptive Perceptual Orientation Task

Tianwei Gong, Baichen Li, Limei Teng, Zijun Zhou, Xuefei Gao, Ting Jiang


Research on adults' numerical abilities suggests that number representations are spatially oriented. This association of numbers with spatial response is referred to as the SNARC (i.e., spatial–numerical association of response codes) effect. The notation-independence hypothesis of numeric processing predicts that the SNARC effect will not vary with notation (e.g., Arabic vs. number word). To test such assumption, the current study introduced an adaptive experimental procedure based on a simple perceptual orientation task that can automatically smooth out the mean reaction time difference between Arabic digits and traditional Chinese number. We found that the SNARC effect interacted with notation, showing a SNARC effect for Arabic digits, but not for verbal number words. The results of this study challenged the commonly held view that notation does not affect numerical processes associated with spatial representations. We introduced a parallel model to explain the notation-dependent SNARC effect in the perceptual orientation judgment task.


automatic processing; SNARC effect; perceptual orientation task; mathematical cognition; notation effect

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Copyright (c) 2019 Gong; Li; Teng; Zhou; Gao; Jiang