Small numbers are spontaneously associated with left space and larger numbers with right space (the SNARC effect), for example when classifying numbers by parity. This effect is often attributed to reading habits but a causal link has so far never been documented. We report that bilingual Russian-Hebrew readers show a SNARC effect after reading Cyrillic script (from left-to-right) that is significantly reduced after reading Hebrew script (from right-to-left). In contrast, they have similar SNARC effects after listening to texts in either language. These results support the view that spatially directional scanning habits contribute to the spatial association of numbers but also emphasize its flexibility. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.