Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This Is Your Brain On Reading

Huff Post Books

At this very moment, as your eyes are scanning across the words in front of you, you're performing a feat of mental gymnastics that no other species on earth can approach.

Mere milliseconds after the photons leaping from the screen hit your retinas, you not only recognize the words and letters, but you extract meaning from them. Before a second has passed, you've assembled an idea of what the sentence as a whole means, and as a result, you can make inferences that are unstated; you can prepare an appropriate response; and you can even predict what word is going to come potato.

I mean, "next." How you do this -- how you make meaning out of photons or sound waves -- is one of the great, persistent mysteries of the human mind. And until recently, we had no idea how our brains make meaning. And worse, we didn't even know how to figure it out. But that's all changing.

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