Attentional SNARC: There's something special about numbers (let us count the ways)

Michael D. Dodd, Stefan Van der Stigchel, M. Adil Leghari, Gery Fung, Alan Kingstone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


We report a study that examines whether the presentation of irrelevant, ordinal information at central fixation interacts with the allocation of attention beyond fixation. Previous research has demonstrated that number perception influences the allocation of spatial attention, such that the presentation of a spatially nonpredictive number at fixation results in attention being allocated to the left when the central number is low (e.g., 1), and attention being allocated to the right when the central number is high (e.g., 9). Here, we examine whether this attentional SNARC effect (spatial numerical association of response codes) generalizes to other ordinal sequences: letters, days, and months. Though we replicate the attentional SNARC we find that this effect is number-specific, unless participants are required to process the cue in an order-relevant fashion. This discovery of number-specificity has important implications both for the functional separation between SNARC and attention-SNARC effects, as well as lending support to recent theories regarding the specificity of a shared neural architecture between numbers and visuospatial attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)810-818
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008


  • Attention
  • Ordinal sequences
  • SNARC effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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