Brain representations of negative numbers Academic Article uri icon


  • Participants performed a physical comparison task of pairs of positive and pairs of negative one-digit numbers while their electrophysiological brain activity was measured. The numerical value of the presented digits was either congruent or incongruent with the physical size of the digits. Analysis has shown that the earliest event-related potential (ERP) difference between positive and negative numbers was found in the P300 ERP component peak, where there was an inverse effect of congruity in the negative pairs, compared with the positive ones. This pattern of results supports the idea that natural numbers serve as primitives of the human cognitive system, whereas negative numbers are apparently generated if needed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).

publication date

  • January 1, 2012