Fast saccades toward numbers: Simple number comparisons can be made in as little as 230 ms

Milica Mormann, Erik Madsen, Christof Koch, Antonio Rangel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Visual psychophysicists have recently developed tools to measure the maximal speed at which the brain can accurately carry out different types of computations (H. Kirchner & S. J. Thorpe, 2006). We use this methodology to measure the maximal speed with which individuals can make magnitude comparisons between two single-digit numbers. We find that individuals make such comparisons with high accuracy in 306 ms on average and are able to perform above chance in as little as 230 ms. We also find that maximal speeds are similar for "larger than" and "smaller than" number comparisons and in a control task that simply requires subjects to identify the number in a number-letter pair. The results suggest that the brain contains dedicated processes involved in implementing basic number comparisons that can be deployed in parallel with processes involved in low-level visual processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Vision
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes



  • Decision making
  • Eye tracking
  • Mental number line
  • Minimum reaction time
  • Number comparison

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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