Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Weapons Of Mass Production', I Mean, 'Mass Destruction!' How The Brain Prevents Verbal Errors

Date:
November 5, 2008
Source:
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research)
Summary:
New research illuminates how the brain prevents verbal errors. Our brain is fairly good at preventing mistakes in speech. Unfortunately it does make the odd mistake. George W. Bush, famous for his verbal errors, made the mistake of referring to weapons of 'mass production' instead of 'mass destruction'. Former UK deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, had the same problem when he spoke of solving industrial disputes through 'meditation' instead of 'mediation'.

It seems that our brain can correct speech errors in the same way that it controls other forms of behaviour. Niels Schiller and Lesya Ganushchak, NWO researchers in Leiden, made this discovery while studying how the brain reacts to verbal errors. This research can contribute to improvements in the treatment of people who have problems with speaking or in understanding language.

Related Articles


Our brain is fairly good at preventing mistakes in speech. Unfortunately it does make the odd mistake. George W. Bush, famous for his verbal errors, made the mistake of referring to weapons of 'mass production' instead of 'mass destruction'. Former UK deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, had the same problem when he spoke of solving industrial disputes through 'meditation' instead of 'mediation'.

The 'f' in spoon

To see how the brain reacts to these kinds of mistakes, Schiller and Ganushchak asked volunteers to indicate whether or not certain sounds were in the words matching different pictures. So, for example, when shown a picture of a spoon, the volunteer was required to indicate whether or not a 'p' was in the word. This does not usually give any problems, but under pressure, when given less time, the volunteers make more mistakes. They then indicate for example that there is an 'f' in the word 'spoon' or that there is no 'p' in 'spoon'.

'Oh-Shit' wave

The researchers showed that the brain responds to such faulty utterances with a specific electrophysiological signal. It was already known that this wave occurs when making behavioural errors, such as pressing a wrong button by accident. This wave, called Error-Related Negativity, is informally known as the 'Oh-shit' wave. The brain registers at once that something is amiss.

The most important conclusion of the study is that the way in which the brain uses language is not fundamentally different from how other actions such as grabbing or walking are carried out. The 'Oh-shit' wave registers errors so rapidly that they can sometimes be corrected in time. In this way you can stop yourself from falling down the stairs or saying the wrong thing.

Language in the brain

The results of this research provide a better understanding of the brain and how it processes languages. Such new insights into the mechanisms that affect speech can help to improve therapy methods for people with language impairments.

This study is part of a broader research project that attempts to analyse the working of the brain when using language. Niels Schiller set up the project in 2003 with a grant from NWO’s Vici programme. Lesya Ganushchak, who was a PhD student on that project, received a grant herself in 2008 from NWO’s Rubicon programme aimed at gaining experience abroad.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). "'Weapons Of Mass Production', I Mean, 'Mass Destruction!' How The Brain Prevents Verbal Errors." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081104084219.htm>.
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). (2008, November 5). 'Weapons Of Mass Production', I Mean, 'Mass Destruction!' How The Brain Prevents Verbal Errors. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081104084219.htm
NWO (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). "'Weapons Of Mass Production', I Mean, 'Mass Destruction!' How The Brain Prevents Verbal Errors." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081104084219.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins