Institut de Neurosciences Cognitives et Intégratives d'Aquitaine (UMR5287)

Aquitaine Institute for Cognitive and Integrative Neuroscience

Université de Bordeaux

Zone nord Bat 2 2ème étage
146, rue Léo Saignat
33076 Bordeaux cedex


Supervisory authorities

CNRS Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes Université de Bordeaux

Our partners

Neurocampus Unitéde Formation de Biologie


GDR Robotique GDR Mémoire GDR Multi-électrodes


Home > Latest publications

Tool-number interaction during a prospective memory task / Arnaud Badets - Mathilde Duville - François Oslurak / Received: 25 March 2020 / Accepted: 20 June 2020ille

by Loïc Grattier - published on , updated on

Theoretical views suggest that tool use and numerical magnitude processing can interact during prospective actions. For
example, if a person intends to make a meal for several persons the next week, she/he will have to keep in mind during the
homework-week large dish and large food portions for this event. Here, the magnitude ‘large’ can influence the future choice
for large dishes and other related large tools. This study presents the first empirical evidence supporting this hypothesis.
During a prospective memory task that implied to keep in mind a future action, participants were required to use a tool after
processing Arabic numbers. Small (less than 5) and large (more than 5) magnitudes were employed as cues for the initiation of
the tool-use task, which required participants to use inverse pliers with a small or a large object, but only for some prospective
trials. The inverse pliers were used to dissociate the hand action from the tool action with the object (for example, opening
the hand produced the closing action of the tool). The results revealed that during prospective trials, number processing
interacted only with the tool action toward the object and not with the hand action. Specifically, after the processing of large
magnitudes, the initiation of the closing action of the tool (i.e. the opening action of the hand) was reduced. This finding is
discussed in the light of theories on the emergence of semantics through tool actions.
Prospective memory · Numerical cognition · Tool use