Selective effects of number processing context on number naming

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Naming of Arabic digits can utilise semantic or asemantic pathways but neuropsychological evidence suggests that number-fact retrieval (2×3 = ?) can inhibit the semantic route for digit naming. Consistent with this, Campbell and Metcalfe (in press) demonstrated with neurologically intact participants that Arabic digit naming time was about 15 ms slower when performed in the context of number-fact retrieval (multiplication) than in the context of a task requiring semantic processing (magnitude comparison). Experiment 1 here tested whether this context effect generalised to naming a feature incidentally associated with an Arabic digit (font colour). Experiment 2 tested if the effect generalised to a salient semantic feature associated with Arabic digits (parity). In Experiment 1, the context effect on digit naming was greater than on naming the font colour of digits. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the effect occurred selectively for stating the digit name and did not generalise to parity naming. The results suggest that the effect of context (multiplication vs. comparison) on numeral naming arises in a dedicated digit naming circuit and reinforce the view that number processing context can reconfigure the functional architecture for number naming.

Keywords: Digit naming; Number processing; Redundancy gain

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Publication date: July 1, 2008

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