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Eye position predicts what number you have in mind


Loetscher, T; Bockisch, C J; Nicholls, M E R; Brugger, P (2010). Eye position predicts what number you have in mind. Current Biology, 20(6):R264-R265.

Abstract

Despite the apparent simplicity of picking numbers at random, it is virtually impossible to produce a sequence of truly random numbers. Although numbers seem to pop-up spontaneously in one's mind, their choice is invariably influenced by previously generated numbers [1]. Here, we demonstrate how the eyes and their position give an insight into the nature of the systematic choices made by the brain's ‘random number generator’. By measuring a person's vertical and horizontal eye position, we were able to predict with reliable confidence the size of the next number — before it was spoken. Specifically, a leftward and downward change in eye position announced that the next number would be smaller than the last. Correspondingly, if the eyes changed position to the right and upward, it forecast that the next number would be larger. Apart from supporting the old wisdom that it is often the eyes that betray the mind, the findings highlight the intricate links between supposedly abstract thought processes, the body's actions and the world around us.

Abstract

Despite the apparent simplicity of picking numbers at random, it is virtually impossible to produce a sequence of truly random numbers. Although numbers seem to pop-up spontaneously in one's mind, their choice is invariably influenced by previously generated numbers [1]. Here, we demonstrate how the eyes and their position give an insight into the nature of the systematic choices made by the brain's ‘random number generator’. By measuring a person's vertical and horizontal eye position, we were able to predict with reliable confidence the size of the next number — before it was spoken. Specifically, a leftward and downward change in eye position announced that the next number would be smaller than the last. Correspondingly, if the eyes changed position to the right and upward, it forecast that the next number would be larger. Apart from supporting the old wisdom that it is often the eyes that betray the mind, the findings highlight the intricate links between supposedly abstract thought processes, the body's actions and the world around us.

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57 citations in Web of Science®
74 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Otorhinolaryngology
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Ophthalmology Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Neurology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:March 2010
Deposited On:16 Jul 2010 15:57
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:11
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0960-9822
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2010.01.015
PubMed ID:20334829

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