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Brain damage: neglect disrupts the mental number line.

Authors
  • Zorzi, Marco
  • Priftis, Konstantinos
  • Umiltà, Carlo
Type
Published Article
Journal
Nature
Publication Date
May 09, 2002
Volume
417
Issue
6885
Pages
138–139
Identifiers
PMID: 12000950
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

A popular metaphor for the representation of numbers in the brain is the 'mental number line', in which numbers are represented in a continuous, quantity-based analogical format. Here we show that patients with hemispatial neglect misplace the midpoint of a numerical interval when asked to bisect it (for example, stating that five is halfway between two and six), with an error pattern that closely resembles the bisection of physical lines. This new form of representational neglect constitutes strong evidence that the mental number line is more than simply a metaphor, and that its spatial nature renders it functionally isomorphic to physical lines.

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