Cognitive Processing

, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 237–248 | Cite as

Finger posing primes number comprehension

  • Elena SixtusEmail author
  • Martin H. Fischer
  • Oliver Lindemann
Research Report


Canonical finger postures, as used in counting, activate number knowledge, but the exact mechanism for this priming effect is unclear. Here we dissociated effects of visual versus motor priming of number concepts. In Experiment 1, participants were exposed either to pictures of canonical finger postures (visual priming) or actively produced the same finger postures (motor priming) and then used foot responses to rapidly classify auditory numbers (targets) as smaller or larger than 5. Classification times revealed that manually adopted but not visually perceived postures primed magnitude classifications. Experiment 2 obtained motor priming of number processing through finger postures also with vocal responses. Priming only occurred through canonical and not through non-canonical finger postures. Together, these results provide clear evidence for motor priming of number knowledge. Relative contributions of vision and action for embodied numerical cognition and the importance of canonicity of postures are discussed.


Embodied cognition Finger counting Numerical cognition Priming 



This research was supported by DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) Grant Fi-1915/2-1 “manumerical cognition”.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Cognitive Sciences, Department of PsychologyUniversity of PotsdamPotsdamGermany

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