Number line estimation and complex mental calculation: Is there a shared cognitive process driving the two tasks?

Maria Montefinese, Carlo Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is widely accepted that different number-related tasks, including solving simple addition and subtraction, may induce attentional shifts on the so-called mental number line, which represents larger numbers on the right and smaller numbers on the left. Recently, it has been shown that different number-related tasks also employ spatial attention shifts along with general cognitive processes. Here we investigated for the first time whether number line estimation and complex mental arithmetic recruit a common mechanism in healthy adults. Participants’ performance in two-digit mental additions and subtractions using visual stimuli was compared with their performance in a mental bisection task using auditory numerical intervals. Results showed significant correlations between participants’ performance in number line bisection and that in two-digit mental arithmetic operations, especially in additions, providing a first proof of a shared cognitive mechanism (or multiple shared cognitive mechanisms) between auditory number bisection and complex mental calculation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)495-504
Number of pages10
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Mental number line
  • Number bisection task
  • Two-digit mental operations
  • Verbal working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence

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