Two kinds of probability expressions, verbal and numerical, have been used to characterize the uncertainty that people face. However, the question of whether verbal and numerical probabilities are cognitively processed in a similar manner remains unresolved. From a levels-of-processing perspective, verbal and numerical probabilities may be processed differently during early sensory processing but similarly in later semantic-associated operations. This event-related potential (ERP) study investigated the neural processing of verbal and numerical probabilities in risky choices. The results showed that verbal probability and numerical probability elicited different N1 amplitudes but that verbal and numerical probabilities elicited similar N2 and P3 waveforms in response to different levels of probability (high to low). These results were consistent with a level-of-processing framework and suggest some internal consistency between the cognitive processing of verbal and numerical probabilities in risky choices. Our findings shed light on possible mechanism underlying probability expression and may provide the neural evidence to support the translation of verbal to numerical probabilities (or vice versa)
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