Monday, 31 May 2010

Abstracts: Is it only humans that count from left to right?

An interesting bias experiment. Directional biases are well known in various critters, but not numerically! What they're talking about is how humans tend to put small values on the left, and large values on the right without thinking much about it. And apparently so do nutcrackers.
Link is here.

We report that adult nutcrackers (Nucifraga columbiana) and newborn domestic chicks (Gallus gallus) show a leftward bias when required to locate an object in a series of identical ones on the basis of its ordinal position. Birds were trained to peck at either the fourth or sixth element in a series of 16 identical and aligned positions. These were placed in front of the bird, sagittally with respect to its starting position. When, at test, the series was rotated by 90° lying frontoparallel to the bird's starting position, both species showed a bias for identifying selectively the correct position from the left but not from the right end. The similarity with the well-known phenomenon of the left-to-right spatially oriented number line in humans is considered.

2 comments:

William B Swift said...

Do people that read right to left still count left to right?

TwoYaks said...

It's my understanding that even people who read right to left will 'feel' that larger numbers belong on the right, and smaller numbers lay on the left. That it's a human-wide thing.