Two Attributes of Number Meaning: Numerical Associations With Visual Space and Size Exist in Parallel

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Abstract

Many studies demonstrated interactions between number processing and either spatial codes (effects of spatial-numerical associations) or visual size-related codes (size-congruity effect). However, the interrelatedness of these two number couplings is still unclear. The present study examines the simultaneous occurrence of space- and size-numerical congruency effects and their interactions both within and across trials. In a magnitude judgment task physically small or large digits were presented left or right from screen center. The reaction times analysis revealed that space- and size-congruency effects coexisted in parallel and combined additively. Moreover, a selective sequential modulation of the two congruency effects was found. The size-congruency effect was reduced after size incongruent trials. The space-congruency effect, however, was only affected by the previous space congruency. The observed independence of spatial-numerical and within-magnitude associations is interpreted as evidence that the two couplings reflect different attributes of numerical meaning possibly related to ordinality and cardinality.

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