Asymmetries in the processing of Arabic digits and number words

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Numbers can be represented as Arabic digits ("6") or as number words ("six"). The present study investigated potential processing differences between the two notational formats. In view of the previous finding (e.g., Potter & Faulconer, 1975) that objects are named slower, but semantically categorized faster, than corresponding words, it was investigated whether a similar interaction between stimulus format and task could be obtained with numbers. Experiment 1 established that number words were named faster than corresponding digits, but only if the two notation formats were presented in separate experimental blocks. Experiment 2 contrasted naming with a numerical magnitude judgment task and demonstrated an interaction between notation and task, with slower naming but faster magnitude judgment latencies for digits than for number words. These findings suggest that processing of the two notation formats is asymmetric, with digits gaining rapid access to numerical magnitude representations, but slower access to lexical codes, and the reverse for number words.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
JournalMemory and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


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