Numbers in the blind's eye

Elena Salillas, Alessia Graná, Radouane El-Yagoubi, Carlo Semenza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although lacking visual experience with numerosities, recent evidence shows that the blind perform similarly to sighted persons on numerical comparison or parity judgement tasks. In particular, on tasks presented in the auditory modality, the blind surprisingly show the same effect that appears in sighted persons, demonstrating that numbers are represented through a spatial code, i.e. the Spatial-Numerical Association of Response Codes (SNARC) effect. But, if this is the case, how is this numerical spatial representation processed in the brain of the blind? Principal Findings: Here we report that, although blind and sighted people have similarly organized numerical representations, the attentional shifts generated by numbers have different electrophysiological correlates (sensorial N100 in the sighted and cognitive P300 in the blind). Conclusions: These results highlight possible differences in the use of spatial representations acquired through modalities other than vision in the blind population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6357
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 23 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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