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Is place-value processing in four-digit numbers fully automatic? Yes, but not always

Is place-value processing in four-digit numbers fully automatic? Yes, but not always

Published in: Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, Volume 24, Issue 6, December 2017, 1906-1914

Abstract
“Knowing the place-value of digits in multi-digit numbers allows us to identify, understand and distinguish between numbers with the same digits (e.g., 1492 vs. 1942). Research using the size congruency task has shown that the place-value in a string of three zeros and a non-zero digit (e.g., 0090) is processed automatically. In the present study, we explored whether place-value is also automatically activated when more complex numbers (e.g., 2795) are presented. Twenty-five participants were exposed to pairs of four-digit numbers that differed regarding the position of some digits and their physical size. Participants had to decide which of the two numbers was presented in a larger font size. In the congruent condition, the number shown in a bigger font size was numerically larger. In the incongruent condition, the number shown in a smaller font size was numerically larger. Two types of numbers were employed: numbers composed of three zeros and one non-zero digit (e.g., 0040–0400) and numbers composed of four non-zero digits (e.g., 2795–2759). Results showed larger congruency effects in more distant pairs in both type of numbers. Interestingly, this effect was considerably stronger in the strings composed of zeros. These results indicate that place-value coding is partially automatic, as it depends on the perceptual and numerical properties of the numbers to be processed.”

Written by: Javier Garcia-Orza, Alejandro J. Estudillo, Marina Calleja, José Miguel Rodriguez
For full text: https://doi.org/10.3758/s13423-017-1231-x

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