The middle range of the number line orients attention to the left side of visual space

Zaira Cattaneo, Juha Silvanto, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Lorella Battelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mental representation of numbers is believed to be spatial in nature, with small numbers occupying the left and large numbers the right side of a putative mental number line. Consistent with this, presentation of numbers from the low and high ends of the mental number line induces covert shifts of spatial attention to the left and right side of visual space, respectively. However, the effect of the presentation of the middle range (containing numbers below and above the midpoint) of the number line on visual perception has so far not been studied. Here we show in two experiments, using a line bisection task and a simple target detection task, that processing of middle-range numbers affects allocation of visuospatial attention in a similar way as processing of small numbers, with attention shifted to the left side of space. We suggest that this pattern of results arises due to "anchoring" heuristics that participants use in number processing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-246
Number of pages12
JournalCognitive Neuropsychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Line bisection
  • Mental number line
  • Number processing
  • Spatial priming
  • Target detection
  • Visual attention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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