Non-symbolic magnitudes are represented spatially: Evidence from a non-symbolic SNARC task

Nemeh, Fiona; Humberstone, Judi; Yates, Mark; Reeve, Robert A.

A core proposition in numerical cognition is numbers are represented spatially. Evidence for this proposition comes from the “spatial numerical association of response codes” effect (SNARC) in which faster responses are made by the left/right hand judging whether one of a pair of Arabic digits is smaller/larger than the other. Less is known if a similar SNARC effect exists for non-symbolic magnitudes; and research that has been conducted used stimuli which could be translated into symbolic terms. To overcome this limitation, we employed a referent-to-target judgment paradigm in which a referent dot array (n = 30 dots) was follow by a second array of dots (e.g., n = 45 or 15 dots)–participants judged if the second array contained fewer or more dots than the referent array. Dot arrays with fewer dots were judged more quickly with the left hand compared to the right hand (i.e., a SNARC effect). Not all participants demonstrated a SNARC effect, however. Neither visuospatial working memory nor math ability was associated with the presence/absence of a non-symbolic SNARC effect. Implications of the non-symbolic SNARC effect for accounts of numerical cognition are discussed.


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Neurological Surgery
Published Here
September 20, 2018