Decoding digits and dice with magnetoencephalography: evidence for a shared representation of magnitude

Lina Teichmann*, Tijl Grootswagers, Thomas Carlson, Anina N. Rich

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)
    37 Downloads (Pure)


    Numerical format describes the way magnitude is conveyed, for example, as a digit ("3") or Roman numeral (“III”). In the field of numerical cognition, there is an ongoing debate of whether magnitude representation is independent of numerical format. Here, we examine the time course of magnitude processing when using different symbolic formats. We presented participants with a series of digits and dice patterns corresponding to the magnitudes of 1 to 6 while performing a 1-back task on magnitude. Magnetoencephalography offers an opportunity to record brain activity with high temporal resolution. Multivariate pattern analysis applied to magnetoencephalographic data allows us to draw conclusions about brain activation patterns underlying information processing over time. The results show that we can cross-decode magnitude when training the classifier on magnitude presented in one symbolic format and testing the classifier on the other symbolic format. This suggests a similar representation of these numerical symbols. In addition, results from a time generalization analysis show that digits were accessed slightly earlier than dice, demonstrating temporal asynchronies in their shared representation ofmagnitude. Together, ourmethods allow a distinction between format-specific signals and formatindependent representations of magnitude showing evidence that there is a shared representation of magnitude accessed via different symbols.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)999-1010
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of cognitive neuroscience
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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    Copyright the Publisher 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


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