Cognitive Processing

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 495–504 | Cite as

Number line estimation and complex mental calculation: Is there a shared cognitive process driving the two tasks?

  • Maria Montefinese
  • Carlo Semenza
Research Report


It is widely accepted that different number-related tasks, including solving simple addition and subtraction, may induce attentional shifts on the so-called mental number line, which represents larger numbers on the right and smaller numbers on the left. Recently, it has been shown that different number-related tasks also employ spatial attention shifts along with general cognitive processes. Here we investigated for the first time whether number line estimation and complex mental arithmetic recruit a common mechanism in healthy adults. Participants’ performance in two-digit mental additions and subtractions using visual stimuli was compared with their performance in a mental bisection task using auditory numerical intervals. Results showed significant correlations between participants’ performance in number line bisection and that in two-digit mental arithmetic operations, especially in additions, providing a first proof of a shared cognitive mechanism (or multiple shared cognitive mechanisms) between auditory number bisection and complex mental calculation.


Two-digit mental operations Number bisection task Mental number line Verbal working memory 



This work was supported by the University of Padua (CPDA131328 and NEURAT STPD11B8HM_004).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental PsychologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of NeuroscienceUniversity of PaduaPaduaItaly
  3. 3.IRCCS San Camillo Hospital FoundationVeniceItaly

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