Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 185, Issue 1, pp 27–39 | Cite as

Masked priming effect with canonical finger numeral configurations

  • Samuel Di Luca
  • Mauro Pesenti
Research Article


Discrete numerosities can be represented by various finger configurations. The impact of counting strategies on these configurations and their possible semantic status were investigated in young adults. Experiment 1 showed that young adults named numerical finger configurations faster when they conformed to their own canonical finger-counting habits than when they did not. Experiment 2 showed that numeral finger configurations used as unconsciously presented primes speeded up numerical comparative judgements of Arabic numeral targets. Participants responded faster and made fewer errors with numerical than with non-numerical primes, and when primes and targets were congruent (i.e., leading to the same response). Moreover, this priming effect generalised to novel never consciously seen numerosities for canonical configurations but not for non-canonical ones. These results support the idea that canonical finger configurations automatically activate number semantics whereas non-canonical ones do not.


Finger counting Numerical representation Cross-notation priming 



This study was supported by Grant 01/06-267 from the Communauté Française de Belgique—Actions de Recherche Concertées (Belgium). We would like to thank Manuela Serra for her help during data collection and Michael Andres for helpful comments on a previous version of this article. MP is research associate at the National Fund for Scientific Research (Belgium).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Unité de Neurosciences CognitivesUniversité Catholique de LouvainLouvain-la-NeuveBelgium

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