Cipora2016_Article_ProfessionalMathematiciansDiff.pdf (532.94 kB)

Professional mathematicians differ from controls in their spatial-numerical associations

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journal contribution
posted on 23.04.2020 by Krzysztof Cipora, M Hohol, Hans-Christoph Nuerk, Klaus Willmes, B Brożek, B Kucharzyk, E Nęcka
© 2015, The Author(s). While mathematically impaired individuals have been shown to have deficits in all kinds of basic numerical representations, among them spatial-numerical associations, little is known about individuals with exceptionally high math expertise. They might have a more abstract magnitude representation or more flexible spatial associations, so that no automatic left/small and right/large spatial-numerical association is elicited. To pursue this question, we examined the Spatial Numerical Association of Response Codes (SNARC) effect in professional mathematicians which was compared to two control groups: Professionals who use advanced math in their work but are not mathematicians (mostly engineers), and matched controls. Contrarily to both control groups, Mathematicians did not reveal a SNARC effect. The group differences could not be accounted for by differences in mean response speed, response variance or intelligence or a general tendency not to show spatial-numerical associations. We propose that professional mathematicians possess more abstract and/or spatially very flexible numerical representations and therefore do not exhibit or do have a largely reduced default left-to-right spatial-numerical orientation as indexed by the SNARC effect, but we also discuss other possible accounts. We argue that this comparison with professional mathematicians also tells us about the nature of spatial-numerical associations in persons with much less mathematical expertise or knowledge.

Funding

‘‘The Limits of Scientific Explanation’’ sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation

German Research Foundation (CR 110/8-1)

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematical Sciences

Published in

Psychological Research

Volume

80

Issue

4

Pages

710 - 726

Publisher

SPRINGER HEIDELBERG

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported Licence (CC BY). Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

22/05/2015

Publication date

2015-06-11

Copyright date

2016

ISSN

0340-0727

eISSN

1430-2772

Language

en

Location

Germany

Depositor

Dr Krzysztof Cipora Deposit date: 21 April 2020

Licence

Exports