Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Besner and Coltheart [Besner, D., & Coltheart, M. (1979). Ideographic and alphabetic processing in skilled reading of English. Neuropsychologia, 17, 467-472] found a size congruity effect for Arabic numbers but not for number words. They proposed that Arabic numbers and number words are processed in different ways. However, in their study orientation of the stimuli and notation were confounded. In the present study, it is found that orientation of number words affects numerical processing. Orientation modulates both the size congruity effect and the distance effect; horizontal presentation produces similar results to those produced by Arabic numbers whereas vertical orientation produces different results. Accordingly, it is proposed that our cognitive system is endowed with two different mechanisms for numerical processing; one relies on a visual-spatial code and the other on a verbal code.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Psychol (Amst)

Publication Date





370 - 381


Adult, Attention, Cognition, Female, Humans, Male, Mathematics, Reaction Time, Speech Perception, Vocabulary