The number bisection task - in which the numerical middle of two other numbers has to be determined (e.g., 6 is the numerical middle of 4 and 8) - has recently been used in neuropsychological case studies in addition to the number comparison task to assess quantitative capabilities in number processing. While factors determining difficulty in normal participants have often been systematically investigated in the number comparison task, this has not yet been done in the number bisection task. Based on a pilot study by van Herten (1999), we extracted four factors that we hypothesized to modulate difficulty in a verification version of the number bisection task in normal participants: Multiplicativity (whether or not the three numbers are part of a multiplication table), range (distance between the smallest and the largest number) for bisectable number triplets as well as distance of the middle number to the numerical middle, and bisection possibility for non-bisectable triplets. In the current study, we obtained large effects for all four factors on RT and accuracy data and some interesting interactions in normal participants. In a regression analysis, we additionally observed inhibitory effects of decade crossing and of ten inclusion (whether or not one of the three numbers was a decade number). We discuss the impact of these results for the use of the number bisection task as an assessment tool in neuropsychology. Finally, we examine the consequences of these results for models of number processing.
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