Numerical Cognition and Spatial Attention


Besides their obvious arithmetic qualities, numbers can also have a spatial quality. Research demonstrates that, when we think about small or large numbers, our attention automatically shifts to the left or right sides of space, respectively. Our research has demonstrated that these shifts of attention are automatic and operate independently of motor responses. We have also demonstrated that attention can be shifted along the mental number using prismatic glasses and exogenous cues.


Mike Nicholls


Nicholls, M. E. R., Lew, M., Loetscher, T., & Yates, M. J. (in press). The importance of response-type to the relationship between temporal order and numerical magnitude. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics.

Loetscher, T., Bockisch, C. J., Nicholls, M. E. R., & Brugger, P. (2010). Eye position predicts what number you have in mind. Current Biology20, 264-265.

Loetscher, T., Nicholls, M. E. R., Towse, J. N., Bradshaw, J. L., & Brugger, P. (2010). Lucky numbers: Spatial neglect affects physical, but not representational, choices in a Lotto task. Cortex46, 685-690.

Nicholls, M. E. R., & McIlroy, A. M. (2010). Spatial cues affect mental number line bisections. Experimental Psychology, 57, 315-319.

Jarick, M., Dixon, M. J., Maxwell, E. C., Nicholls, M. E. R., & Smilek, D. (2009). The Ups and Downs (and Lefts and Rights) of Synaesthetic Number Forms: Validation from Spatial Cueing and SNARC-Type Tasks. Cortex45, 1190-1199.

Loftus, A., Nicholls, M. E. R., Mattingley, J. B., Chapman, H. L., & Bradshaw, J. L. (2009). Pseudoneglect for the bisection of mental number lines. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology62, 925-945.

Loftus, A. M., Vijayakumar, N., & Nicholls, M. E. R. (2009) Prism adaptation overcomes pseudoneglect for the greyscales task. Cortex, 45, 537-543.

Nicholls, M. E. R., Kamer, A., & Loftus, A. M. (2008). Pseudoneglect for mental alphabet lines is affected by prismatic adaptation. Experimental Brain Research, 191, 109-115.

Loftus, A. M., Nicholls, M. E. R., Mattingley, J. B., & Bradshaw, J. L. (2008). Numerical processing overcomes left neglect. Neuroreport, 19, 835-838.

Loftus, A. M., Nicholls, M. E. R., Mattingley, J. B., & Bradshaw, J. L. (2008). Left to right: Representational biases for numbers and the effect of visuomotor adaptation. Cognition107, 1048-1058

Nicholls, M. E. R., Loftus, A., & Gevers, W. (2008). Look, no hands: A perceptual task shows that number magnitude induces shifts of attention. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review15, 413-418.

Nicholls M. E. R., & Loftus, A. (2007). Pseudoneglect and neglect for mental alphabet lines. Brain Research1152, 130-138.