Number-induced shifts in spatial attention: A replication study
Frontiers in Psychology , Volume 5 - Issue AUG
In a spatial attention paradigm, Fischer, Castel, Dodd, & Pratt (2003) showed that merely perceiving a number shifted attention according to the magnitude of the number. Low numbers shifted attention to the left and high numbers shifted attention to the right. This suggests that numbers are represented by the mental number line - a spatial image schema that is ordered from left to right with increasing magnitude. In six experiments, we used the spatial attention paradigm of Fischer et al. to investigate if and when such mental representations are activated. Participants detected visual targets that were preceded by low and high numbers. Between experiments we manipulated how participants processed the number. Participants either merely perceived the number, as in the experiments by Fisher et al., processed the number's parity, or processed the number's magnitude. Our results provide little support for the idea that numbers shift spatial attention. Only in one of the two experiments in which participants processed number magnitude did participants respond faster to targets in congruent locations (left for low magnitudes and right for high magnitudes) than in incongruent locations. In the other five experiments number magnitude did not affect spatial attention. This shows, in contrast to Fischer et al.'s results, that the mental number line is not activated automatically but at best only when it is contextually relevant. Furthermore, these results suggest that image schemas in general may be context dependent rather than fundamental to mental concepts.
|Frontiers in Psychology|
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Zanolie, K, & Pecher, D. (2014). Number-induced shifts in spatial attention: A replication study. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(AUG). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00987