Nonverbal representation of time and number in adults

Jamie D. Roitman, Elizabeth M. Brannon, Jessica R. Andrews, Michael L. Platt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


A wealth of human and animal research supports common neural processing of numerical and temporal information. Here we test whether adult humans spontaneously encode number and time in a paradigm similar to those previously used to test the mode-control model in animals. Subjects were trained to classify visual stimuli that varied in both number and duration as few/short or many/long. Subsequently subjects were tested with novel stimuli that varied time and held number constant (eight flashes in 0.8-3.2 s) or varied number and held time constant (4-16 flashes in 1.6 s). Adult humans classified novel stimuli as many/long as monotonic functions of both number and duration, consistent with simultaneous, nonverbal, analog encoding. Numerical sensitivity, however, was finer than temporal sensitivity, suggesting differential salience of time and number. These results support the notion that adults simultaneously represent the number and duration of stimuli but suggest a possible asymmetry in their representations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)296-318
Number of pages23
JournalActa Psychologica
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult human
  • Attention
  • Bisection
  • Number
  • Time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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