The influence of numerical processing on individuals’ behavior is now well documented. The spatial representation of numbers on a left-to-right mental line (i.e., SNARC effect) has been shown to have sensorimotor consequences, the majority of studies being mainly concerned with its impact on the response times. Its impact on the motor programming stage remains less documented, although swiping movement amplitudes have recently been shown to be modulated by number magnitude. Regarding saccadic eye movements, the few available studies have not provided clear-cut conclusions. They showed that spatial–numerical associations modulated ocular drifts, but not the amplitude of memory-guided saccades. Because these studies held saccadic coordinates constant, which might have masked potential numerical effects, we examined whether spontaneous saccadic eye movements (with no saccadic target) could reflect numerical effects. Participants were asked to look either to the left or to the right side of an empty screen to estimate the magnitude (< or > 5) of a centrally presented digit. Latency data confirmed the presence of the classical SNARC and distance effects. More critically, saccade amplitude reflected a numerical effect: participants’ saccades were longer for digits far from the standard (1 and 9) and were shorter for digits close to it (4 and 6). Our results suggest that beyond response times, kinematic parameters also offer valuable information for the understanding of the link between numerical cognition and motor programming.
Numerical processing Saccadic eye movement Mental number line Distance effect Saccade amplitude
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We thank the editor and reviewers for considering this manuscript. This research received funding from a scholarship from the Ministry of Research (Alexandra Pressigout). We thank Agnes Charvillat for her help with the English version and Leo-Jun Leroy for his contribution to data collection.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (local Ethics Committee of Paris Descartes University, No. CER-PD: 2018-62) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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