Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Don't handle anything breakable while you read this

See your hand there? What's it doing?
Right now, while you are reading these typewritten words, your hand muscles are moving imperceptibly, but measurably. These movements would be even greater if the words were handwritten.

That's because your motor system strongly contributes to your perception of language, in part by trying to simulate the movements that were necessary to craft the words you read on a page or screen.
This is because the corticospinal (motor) system develops first in humans, and other functions develop on top of its foundation.

Let me stop right here. Did you know you have a corticospinal system? Well, that's a new one on me!
The researchers excited test subjects' left primary motor cortices with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) equipment, while showing each subject videos of typed and handwritten words and clusters of letters. The TMS-induced activity in the hand muscles allowed them to measure the motor system's level of excitement for each different video.
I may have some of that equipment down in the basement. Not sure.
Gordon said the results were somewhat surprising.
I should say so. I suspect most readers of this blog are more likely to move their lips while reading it.

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