Cogn Process 2012 Nov 1;13(4):375-9. Epub 2012 Aug 1.
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.
Number comparison tasks are characterized by distance and size effects. The distance effect reveals that the higher the distance is between two numbers, the easier their magnitude comparison is. Accordingly, people are thought to represent numbers on a spatial dimension, the mental number line, on which any given number corresponds to a location on the line. The size effect, instead, states that at any given distance, comparing two small numbers is easier than comparing two large numbers, thus suggesting that larger numbers are more vaguely represented than smaller ones. In the present work we first tested whether the participants were adopting a spatial strategy to solve a very simple numbers comparison task, by assessing the presence of the distance and the magnitude effect. Secondarily, we focused on the influence of gaze position on their performance. The present results provide evidence that gaze direction interferes with number comparisons, worsening the vague representation of larger numbers and further supporting the hypothesis of the overlapping between physical and mental spaces.