Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 208, Issue 1, pp 21–28 | Cite as

Tapping effects on numerical bisection

  • Zaira Cattaneo
  • Micaela Fantino
  • Juha Silvanto
  • Giuseppe Vallar
  • Tomaso Vecchi
Research Article


Numerical magnitude is believed to be represented along a mental number line (MNL), and there is evidence to suggest that the activation of the MNL affects the perception and representation of external space. In the present study, we investigated whether a spatial motor task affects numerical processing in the auditory modality. Blindfolded participants were presented with a numerical interval bisection task, while performing a tapping task with either their left or right hand, either in the fronto-central, fronto-left, or fronto-right peripersonal space. Results showed that tapping significantly influenced the participants’ numerical bisection, with tapping in the left side of space increasing the original tendency to err leftward, and tapping to the right reducing such bias. Importantly, the effect depended on the side of space in which the tapping activity was performed, regardless of which hand was used. Tapping with either the left or right hand in the fronto-central space did not affect the participants’ bias. These findings offer novel support for the existence of bidirectional interactions between external and internal representations of space.


Mental number line Spatial representation Numerical cognition Pseudoneglect Crossmodal interaction 



We are grateful to Carla Tinti, Susan Schmidt, and Antonella Di Stilo for their help in participants’ recruitment. This work has been supported in part by the Fondazione Banca del Monte di Pavia.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zaira Cattaneo
    • 1
  • Micaela Fantino
    • 2
  • Juha Silvanto
    • 3
  • Giuseppe Vallar
    • 1
    • 4
  • Tomaso Vecchi
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Milano-BicoccaMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PaviaPaviaItaly
  3. 3.Brain Research Unit, Low Temperature LaboratoryHelsinki University of TechnologyEspooFinland
  4. 4.Neuropsychological LaboratoryIRCCS Istituto Auxologico ItalianoMilanItaly

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