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, 3 (2), e51

Timing the Brain: Mental Chronometry as a Tool in Neuroscience


Timing the Brain: Mental Chronometry as a Tool in Neuroscience

Michael I Posner. PLoS Biol.


Mental chronometry, which has origins dating back over a century, seeks to measure the time course of mental operations in the human nervous system


Figure 1
Figure 1. Reaction Time for Various Conditions
People were asked to judge whether a presented digit was greater or less than five. The time to respond (reaction time) varied systematically as a function of notation (Arabic digits vs. spelledout numbers), distance (closer or farther in sequence from five), and responding hand. The three effects are additive, indicating the likelihood of serial stages of cognitive processing. (Adapted from [14])
Figure 2
Figure 2. Regions of the Brain Involved in a Number Comparison Task Derived from EEG and fMRI Studies
The regions represented correspond to those showing effects of notation used for the numbers (pink and hatched), distance from the test number (orange), choice of hand (red), and errors (purple). (Illustration: Giovanni Maki; adapted from [18])

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