Cognitive representation of negative numbers

Martin H. Fischer

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    90 Citations (Scopus)


    To understand negative numbers, must we refer to positive number representations (the phylogenetic hypothesis), or do we acquire a negative mental number line (the ontogenetic hypothesis)? In the experiment reported here, participants made lateralized button responses to indicate the larger of two digits from the range -9 to 9. Digit pairs were displayed spatially congruent or incongruent with either a phylogenetic or an ontogenetic mental number line. The pattern of decision latencies suggests that negative numbers become associated with left space, thus supporting the ontogenetic view.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)278-282
    Number of pages5
    JournalPsychological Science
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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