Cognitive Processing

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 51–62 | Cite as

Magnitude representation in sequential comparison of two-digit numbers is not holistic either

  • Korbinian Moeller
  • Elise Klein
  • Hans-Christoph Nuerk
  • Klaus Willmes
Research Report


There is accumulating evidence suggesting that two-digit number magnitude is represented in a decomposed fashion into tens and units rather than holistically as one integrated entity. However, recently, it has been claimed that this property does not hold for the case when two to-be-compared numbers are presented sequentially. In the present study, we pursued this issue in two experiments by evaluating perceptual as well as strategic aspects arising for sequential stimulus presentation in a magnitude comparison task. We observed reliable unit-decade compatibility effects indicating decomposed processing of tens and units in a magnitude comparison task with sequential presentation of the to-be-compared numbers. In particular, we found that both confounding low-level perceptual features and stimulus set characteristics determining cue validity of the units influenced the compatibility effect. Taken together, our results clearly indicate that decomposed representations of tens and units seem to be a general characteristic of multi-digit number magnitude processing, rather than an exception occurring under very specific conditions only. Implications of these results for the understanding of number magnitude representations are discussed.


Number magnitude Compatibility effect Decomposed Holistic 



This research was funded in part by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for project 2 within the Research Group (Forschergruppe) Analyse und Förderung effektiver Lehr-Lern-Prozesse (FOR 738/2/) granted to Ulrike Cress and Hans-Christoph Nuerk supporting Korbinian Moeller. Additionally, part of this research was supported by a project in the ScienceCampus (WissenschaftsCampus) Tuebingen (Cluster 1/TP 1). We are grateful to Ian Mackenzie for language editing.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Korbinian Moeller
    • 1
  • Elise Klein
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Hans-Christoph Nuerk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Klaus Willmes
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Knowledge Media Research Center, IWM-KMRCTuebingenGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyEberhard Karls UniversityTuebingenGermany
  3. 3.Section Neuropsychology, Department of NeurologyUniversity Hospital, RWTH Aachen UniversityAachenGermany
  4. 4.Interdisciplinary Center for Clinical Research Aachen, RWTHAachenGermany

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