Relating magnitudes: The brain's code for proportions

Simon N. Jacob, Daniela Vallentin, Andreas Nieder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


Whereas much is known about how we categorize and reason based on absolute quantity, data exploring ratios of quantities, as in proportions and fractions, are comparatively sparse. Until recently, it remained elusive whether these two representations of number are connected, how proportions are implemented by neurons and how language shapes this code. New data derived with complementary methods and from different model systems now shed light on the mechanisms of magnitude ratio representations. A coding scheme for proportions has emerged that is remarkably reminiscent of the representation of absolute number. These novel findings suggest a sense for ratios that grants the brain automatic access to proportions independently of language and the format of presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-166
Number of pages10
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


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