Exploring the Boundaries of the Number–Temporal Order Association

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Abstract

Past research has shown that numbers are associated with order in time such that performance in a numerical comparison task is enhanced when number pairs appear in ascending order, when the larger number follows the smaller one. This was found in the past for the integers 1–9 (Ben-Meir, Ganor-Stern, & Tzelgov, 2013; Müller & Schwarz, 2008). In the present study we explored whether the advantage for processing numbers in ascending order exists also for fractions and negative numbers. The results demonstrate this advantage for fraction pairs and for integer-fraction pairs. However, the opposite advantage for descending order was found for negative numbers and for positive-negative number pairs. These findings are interpreted in the context of embodied cognition approaches and current theories on the mental representation of fractions and negative numbers.

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