Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Through the looking glass: Research into brain's ability to understand mirror-image words sheds light on dyslexia

Date:
March 31, 2011
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Human beings understand words reflected in a mirror without thinking about it, just like those written normally, at least for a few instants. Researchers in Spain have shown this in a study that could also help to increase our understanding of the phenomenon of dyslexia.

The visual system can rotate the words reflected in the mirror.
Credit: SINC

Human beings understand words reflected in a mirror without thinking about it, just like those written normally, at least for a few instants. Researchers from the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Languages (Spain) have shown this in a study that could also help to increase our understanding of the phenomenon of dyslexia.

Related Articles


Most people can read texts reflected in a mirror slowly and with some effort, but a team of scientists from the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language (BCBL) has shown for the first time that we can mentally turn these images around and understand them automatically and unconsciously, at least for a few instants.

"At a very early processing stage, between 150 and 250 milliseconds, the visual system completely rotates the words reflected in the mirror and recognises them," says Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, lead author of the study, "although the brain then immediately detects that this is not the correct order and 'remembers' that it should not process them in this way."

In order to carry out this study, which has been published in the journal NeuroImage, the researchers used electrodes to monitor the brain activity of 27 participants while carrying out two experiments in front of a computer screen.

In the first, the participants were shown words with some of the letters and other information rotated for 50 milliseconds (an imperceptible flash, which is processed by the brain); while in the second case the entire word in the mirror was rotated (for example HTUOM INSTEAD OF MOUTH).

The results of the encephalogram showed in both cases that, at between 150 and 250 milliseconds, the brain's response upon seeing the words as reflected in the mirror was the same as when they are read normally.

Better understanding of dyslexia

"These results open a new avenue for studying the effects of involuntary rotation of letters and words in individuals with reading difficulties (dyslexia) and writing problems (dysgrafia)," Duñabeitia explains.

The researcher gives reassurance to parents who worry when their children reverse their letters when they start to write: "This is the direct result of the mirror rotation property of the visual system." In fact, it is common for children to start to write this way until they learn the "established" forms at school.

"Now we know that rotating letters is not a problem that is exclusive to some dyslexics, since everybody often does this in a natural and unconscious way, but what we need to understand is why people who can read normally can inhibit this, while others with difficulties in reading and writing cannot, confusing 'b' for 'd', for example," explains Duñabeitia.

The scientific community has yet to discover how reading, a skill that is learnt relatively late in human development, can inhibit mental rotation in a mirror, a visual capacity that is common to many animals.

"A tiger is a tiger on the right side and the left side, but a word read in the mirror loses its meaning -- although now we know that it is not as incomprehensible for our visual system as we thought, because it is capable of processing it as if it were correct," the researcher concludes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jon Andoni Duñabeitia, Nicola Molinaro, Manuel Carreiras. Through the looking-glass: Mirror reading. NeuroImage, 2011; 54 (4): 3004 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.10.079

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Through the looking glass: Research into brain's ability to understand mirror-image words sheds light on dyslexia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331080037.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2011, March 31). Through the looking glass: Research into brain's ability to understand mirror-image words sheds light on dyslexia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331080037.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Through the looking glass: Research into brain's ability to understand mirror-image words sheds light on dyslexia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110331080037.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) — In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) — Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. 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