Fingers facilitate number learning and arithmetic processing in early childhood. The current study investigated whether images of early-learned, culturally-typical (canonical), finger montring patterns presenting smaller (2,3,4) or larger (7,8,9) quantities still facilitate adults’ performance and neural processing in a math verification task. Twenty-eight adults verified solutions to simple addition problems that were shown in the form of canonical or non-canonical finger-number montring patterns while measuring Event-Related Potentials (ERPs). Results showed more accurate and faster sum verification when sum solutions were shown by canonical (versus non-canonical) finger patterns. Canonical finger montring patterns 2-4 led to faster responses independent of whether they presented correct or incorrect sum solutions and elicited an enhanced early right-parietal P2p response, whereas canonical configurations 7-9 only facilitated performance in correct sum solution trials without evoking P2p effects. The later central-parietal P3 was enhanced to all canonical finger patterns irrespective of numerical range. These combined results provide behavioral and brain evidence for canonical cardinal finger patterns still having facilitating effects on adults’ number processing. They further suggest that finger montring configurations of numbers 2-4 have stronger internalized associations with other magnitude representations, possibly established through their mediating role in the developmental phase in which children acquire the numerical meaning of the first four number symbols.
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