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Open Access Research

Object-based neglect in number processing

Elise Klein123*, Korbinian Moeller2, Daniela Zinsberger45, Harald Zauner56, Guilherme Wood7, Klaus Willmes1, Christine Haider6, Alfred Gassner6 and Hans-Christoph Nuerk23

Author Affiliations

1 Section Neuropsychology, Department of Neurology, University Hospital, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany

2 IWM-KMRC Knowledge Media Research Center, Tuebingen, Germany

3 Department of Psychology, Eberhard Karls University, Tuebingen, Germany

4 BBRZ Group, Neuronetzwerk, Linz, Austria

5 Department of Psychology, Paris Lodron University, Salzburg, Austria

6 SKA – Rehabilitation Center of the PVA Großgmain, Department of Neurorehabilitation, Großgmain, Austria

7 Department of Psychology, Karl Franzens University, Graz, Austria

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Behavioral and Brain Functions 2013, 9:5  doi:10.1186/1744-9081-9-5

Published: 23 January 2013

Abstract

Recent evidence suggests that neglect patients seem to have particular problems representing relatively smaller numbers corresponding to the left part of the mental number line. However, while this indicates space-based neglect for representational number space little is known about whether and - if so - how object-based neglect influences number processing.

To evaluate influences of object-based neglect in numerical cognition, a group of neglect patients and two control groups had to compare two-digit numbers to an internally represented standard. Conceptualizing two-digit numbers as objects of which the left part (i.e., the tens digit should be specifically neglected) we were able to evaluate object-based neglect for number magnitude processing.

Object-based neglect was indicated by a larger unit-decade compatibility effect actually reflecting impaired processing of the leftward tens digits. Additionally, faster processing of within- as compared to between-decade items provided further evidence suggesting particular difficulties in integrating tens and units into the place-value structure of the Arabic number system.

In summary, the present study indicates that, in addition to the spatial representation of number magnitude, also the processing of place-value information of multi-digit numbers seems specifically impaired in neglect patients.

Keywords:
Number processing; Number magnitude comparison; Object-based neglect; Multi-digit numbers