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Research Articles

The Universal SNARC Effect

The Association between Number Magnitude and Space is Amodal

Published Online:

Abstract. It is thought that number magnitude is represented in an abstract and amodal way on a left-to-right oriented mental number line. Major evidence for this idea has been provided by the SNARC effect (Dehaene, Bossini, & Giraux, 1993): responses to relatively larger numbers are faster for the right hand, those to smaller numbers for the left hand, even when number magnitude is irrelevant. The SNARC effect has been used to index automatic access to a central semantic and amodal magnitude representation. However, this assumption of modality independence has never been tested and it remains uncertain if the SNARC effect exists in other modalities in a similar way as in the visual modality. We have examined this question by systematically varying modality/notation (auditory number word, visual Arabic numeral, visual number word, visual dice pattern) in a within-participant design. The SNARC effect was found consistently for all modality/notation conditions, including auditory presentation. The size of the SNARC effect in the auditory condition did not differ from the SNARC effect in any visual condition. We conclude that the SNARC effect is indeed a general index of a central semantic and amodal number magnitude representation.