Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Visualizing Numbers

Academic journal article Attention, Perception and Psychophysics

Visualizing Numbers

Article excerpt

NUMERACY

Loetscher et al. (2010). Eye position predicts what number you have in mind. Curr Biol, 20, R264. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2010.01.015

There is a cultural notion that the eyes are windows into the mind. Should you entrust your money to a shifty-eyed investment banker? Does a straight, direct gaze as your partner swears undying love make that statement more likely to be true? Even if these are meaningful signals, we do not tend to think of them as metrical; the amount of shiftiness or directness of gaze seems unlikely to relate to the amount of money you could lose or the love you could gain. However, matters change when we look at the relationship between numbers and eye movements. Loetscher et al. asked observers to generate random numbers and monitored their eye position. People are not very good at being truly random, but the observers did produce pseudorandom numbers in the range of 1 to 30 (a surprisingly taxing task). Interestingly, the size and direction of the change from one internally generated number to the next could be decently predicted by looking at eye position. …

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