Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Do You Have A Strange Mind Too?

The following email has done the rounds for some time on the internet now, but its implications are impressive. Have a go at reading the paragraph below:

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mind! Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae.The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh, and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Well, how did you do? Apparently, not everyone can reveal the above message, and indeed, you may need a strange mind to do so. There's no official line from Cambridge University regarding this research though and some think of it as a well informed internet stunt. Nevertheless, it illustrates beautifully the inner workings of the mind. By messing around with the arrangement of letters in words it reveals something remarkable in how the mind processes information. When we leave the first and last letters of a word but muddle all the others, we are still able to read the true meaning regardless of how the word looks, because the mind uses shortcuts to cognise words more rapidly. The brain therefore is not reading the actual written word that we are consciously aware of, but rather identifying it as a shape, which it then matches to something stored in memory.Every word, and every meaning to every word, is contained within the brain somewhere. This seems obvious as we search our minds for the words we need to write, but remains as something we are unaware of when we read. We don't simply pick a word up from the page, but rather open its door from our own memory banks.

The implications of this are monumental, not only in how we apply it to when we read words on paper but also how we see EVERYTHING in the Universe. When we read the words off a page we are playing a game of association with them, and comparing them to ones held within memory, but is this not also true for how we describe every day objects we come into contact with? Are we at last seeing proofs of Buddhist theology and their teachings on the emptiness of the Universe?

So where on earth do we store all these memories of not only words, but also potentially the meaning of EVERTHING in the Universe? Well it appears that the oldest part of our brains which we inherited from our reptilian ancestors, plays a much more active role in our perception than previouslty thought. The cerebellum takes up only 10% of total brain volume, but has over 50% of all the neurons of the brain. The cerebellum has long been thought as a motor control structure, but modern research is starting to reveal a broader role in a number of key cognitive functions, including attention and the processing of language , music, and other sensory temporal stimuli. This here's worth a glance .... http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/16/3/367

And for anyone interested in Buddhist teachings on emptiness... http://kwelos.tripod.com/sunyata.htm

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