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Counting is a spatial process: evidence from eye movements


, : Counting is a spatial process: evidence from eye movements. Psychological Research 80(3): 399-409

Spatial-numerical associations (small numbers-left/lower space and large numbers-right/upper space) are regularly found in simple number categorization tasks. These associations were taken as evidence for a spatially oriented mental number line. However, the role of spatial-numerical associations during more complex number processing, such as counting or mental arithmetic is less clear. Here, we investigated whether counting is associated with a movement along the mental number line. Participants counted aloud upward or downward in steps of 3 for 45 s while looking at a blank screen. Gaze position during upward counting shifted rightward and upward, while the pattern for downward counting was less clear. Our results, therefore, confirm the hypothesis of a movement along the mental number line for addition. We conclude that space is not only used to represent number magnitudes but also to actively operate on numbers in more complex tasks such as counting, and that the eyes reflect this spatial mental operation.

US$19.90

PMID: 26608732

DOI: 10.1007/s00426-015-0722-5


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