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Spatial representation of ordinal information

Zhang, M., Gao, X., Li, B., Yu, S., Gong, T., Jiang, T., Hu, Q., & Chen, Y. (2016). Spatial representation of ordinal information. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 505. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00505.
Right hand responds faster than left hand when shown larger numbers and vice-versa when shown smaller numbers (the SNARC effect). Accumulating evidence suggests that the SNARC effect may not be exclusive for numbers and can be extended to other ordinal sequences (e.g., months or letters in the alphabet) as well. In this study, we tested the SNARC effect with a non-numerically ordered sequence: the Chinese notations for the color spectrum (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet). Chinese color word sequence reserves relatively weak ordinal information, because each element color in the sequence normally appears in non-sequential contexts, making it ideal to test the spatial organization of sequential information that was stored in the long-term memory. This study found a reliable SNARC-like effect for Chinese color words (deciding whether the presented color word was before or after the reference color word “green”), suggesting that, without access to any quantitative information or exposure to any previous training, ordinal representation can still activate a sense of space. The results support that weak ordinal information without quantitative magnitude encoded in the long-term memory can activate spatial representation in a comparison task
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