Aug 27, 2022

Counting from left to right feels ‘natural,’ but new research shows our brains count faster from bottom to top

Posted by in categories: education, space

When asked to write the numbers from one to ten in a sequence, how do you order them? Horizontally? Vertically? Left to right? Top to bottom? Would you place them randomly?

It has been often been assumed, and taught in schools in Western countries, that the “correct” ordering of numbers is from left to right (1, 2, 3, 4…) rather than right to left (10, 9, 8, 7…). The ordering of numbers along a horizontal dimension is known as a “mental number line” and describes an important way we represent number and quantity in space.

Studies show humans prefer to position to the right and smaller numbers to the left. People are usually faster and more accurate at comparing numbers when larger ones are to the right and smaller ones are to the left, and people with that disrupts their spatial processing also show similar disruptions in number processing.

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