Most people can read slowly and with effort texts in the mirror, but a team of scientists at the Basque Center for Cognition, Brain and Language has demonstrated for the first time, we can mentally rotate the images and automatically understand unconscious for a while.
"At a very early processing period, between 150 and 250 milliseconds, the visual system completely broken words reflected in the mirror and recognize," says Jon Andoni Dunabeitia SINC, lead author of the research, "but then brain then detects that it is not the right way and 'remembers' that just do not have to process them. "
For the study, published in the journal NeuroImage , the researchers monitored brain activity with electrodes of 27 participants while they performed two experiments in front of a computer screen.
In the first-among other information, they were shown words with some letters rotated for 50 milliseconds (an imperceptible flash, but that the brain processes), and second, the complete mirror word (eg instead of REASON OVITOM).
The results of EEG revealed that in both cases, between 150 and 250 milliseconds, after presenting the words as they look in the mirror the brain response was the same as when read normally.
Better understanding of dyslexia
"These results open a new field in the study of effects of unintentional rotation of letters and words associated with individuals with reading difficulties (dyslexia) or writing (dysgraphia)," said Dunabeitia.
The researcher reassures parents worry when their children start writing by turning the letters: "This is the direct consequence of the mirror rotation property of the visual system." In fact it is common for children to start writing and learning the ways "canonical" in school.
"Now we have to rotate the letters is not problem for some dyslexics, as everyone makes it so natural and unconscious, but you have to understand is why the normally achieving readers can inhibit it and some people with no literacy difficulties, confusing 'b' and the 'd', for example, "explains Dunabeitia.
The scientific community has not yet discovered how reading, an ability learned relatively late in human development, can inhibit mental rotation in mirror, a vision is common in many animals.
"A tiger is a tiger by the profile right and left, but a word written in mirror loses its meaning, though now we know that is not so incomprehensible to our visual system because it is able to process it as if it were correct," concludes the researcher.
Jon Andoni Dunabeitia, Nicola Molinaro and Manuel Carreiras. "Through the looking-glass: Mirror reading." NeuroImage 54 (4): 3004-3009, February 2011. Doi : 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.079 .