Number magnitude to finger mapping is disembodied and topological

Myrthe A. Plaisier, Jeroen B.J. Smeets

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14 Citations (Scopus)
57 Downloads (Pure)


It has been shown that humans associate fingers with numbers because finger counting strategies interact with numerical judgements. At the same time, there is evidence that there is a relation between number magnitude and space as small to large numbers seem to be represented from left to right. In the present study, we investigated whether number magnitude to finger mapping is embodied (related to the order of fingers on the hand) or disembodied (spatial). We let healthy human volunteers name random numbers between 1 and 30, while simultaneously tapping a random finger. Either the hands were placed directly next to each other, 30 cm apart, or the hands were crossed such that the left hand was on the right side of the body mid-line. The results show that naming a smaller number than the previous one was associated with tapping a finger to the left of the previously tapped finger. This shows that there is a spatial (disembodied) mapping between number magnitude and fingers. Furthermore, we show that this mapping is topological rather than metrically scaled.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)395-400
Number of pages6
JournalExperimental Brain Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Female
  • Fingers/physiology
  • Functional Laterality/physiology
  • Humans
  • Judgment/physiology
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Psychomotor Performance/physiology
  • Young Adult


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