French scientists have used a brain-scan study to link mental math to eye motions.
The researchers used a computer program to record brain activity when participants were looking left or right, and then predicted when the subjects were mentally adding or subtracting based on their brain activity.
They observed that while performing addition, the participants triggered the same patterns of brain activity that light up when they looked right, and when they did subtraction, the left-looking brain patterns activated.
Studies conducted in the past have shown that numbers and space perception are closely linked in the brain.
Study leader Andre Knops, from the French health organization INSERM in Gif-sur-Yvette, said that the new study could help explain the reason behind that association.
He further said that the research might also lead to better ways of teaching math in schools.
"Teachers could emphasize the link between numbers and space by making use of spatial relations between numbers," National Geographic News quoted him as saying.
He, however, conceded that such approaches would first have to be validated and tested by educators.
The finding of the study have been reported in the journal Science.