The Truth About Reading And The Mind

Cna yuo raed tihs? if yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid, too.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulatcly uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to 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.

The human mind is a curious beast. At any one moment, including right now, your brain is processing billions of bits of information and is controlling you without your knowing it!

Let’s explain

Our consciousness is based on tiny little bits of perception and experience called percepts. Imagine if you could feel the touch of every inch of the material in the clothes against your skin. Or hear every individual sound making up the background noise in your surroundings.

Make a fist, with thumbs up, and place your arm at full length in front of your face.

The size of your thumb nail at that distance is the actual size a human eye can focus on in high resolution. It is called the foveal point and it’s tiny compared to the rest of the picture you see. Test it out…everything outside of that point is a blur – and this is why we have to move our eyes around to focus on the things we want to see in detail. We call this nifty trick saccading. Imagine though, if you could focus on that point and everything in your peripheral vision too. How rich a tapestry would that be?

Well, believe it or not (once more), your brain – the subconscious part – is doing that for you, every second of every waking moment. Our brains are computing and analysing all of those percepts, which make up the senses, without us even knowing.

In fact, the subconscious manages all of this information and pushes about 16 bits or percepts into our conscious mind at any one time. It’s a paltry amount when you think of it. Nevertheless, our brain literally decides what is important and what to make us aware of – and we have little-to-no control over that. Without a doubt, most people are familiar with the subconscious to some extent, and would agree with the facts presented in the table.

I don’t know what I’ve said until I say it

Undoubtedly those points are true, yet we should note that the subconscious mind also plays a commanding role over language. We can listen to speech or read information in text and analyse it in real-time. We are able to respond instantaneously to what someone says, or make a connection or conclusion to something read, no matter how complex. Moreover, we do it without thinking, planning or even being aware of the depth of exchange we are making conceptually.

We may think we know what we are talking about… Even so, the words come out before we’ve even had a chance to think. We obviously notice this when something ‘slips out’ unintentionally. Or when we are emotional and tend not to ‘mince our words’. In this case perhaps, the truth unwittingly expresses itself in all sorts of potentially hurtful ways. But in reality, we really are not in control of what we say, or even most of the ideas that pop into our head.

Leading Danish science writer Tor Norretranders states in his book, The User Illusion, that the subconscious part of the human mind makes decisions a mind-blowing 0.2 seconds before the conscious part becomes aware. In a nutshell, this means we are being mind-controlled – by our own minds!

Where does reading come in?

Reading is the key to learning. It is symbolic conveying of complex concepts through the written word. You can tell somebody something all day, every day and it might not sink in. Nonetheless, we all know what happens if you don’t read or mis-read a sign, Particularly an important warning sign.

Not only does reading help us with everyday mundane bits of info, it also opens up the entire back-catalogue of human knowledge and endeavour. Eminent linguist Noam Chomsky, suggests that humans are hard-wired to create, understand and develop language. Apparently it is in our genes. Indeed, it is so powerful, that our brains can process a mess of jumbled words and make sense from nonsense. However, for us to use our language skills well, we need to give our brains the right kind of input.

Imagine you want to power a small light, you would only need a small input of a few volts. If you wanted to illuminate a stadium, your power input needs to be multiplied to the max. Unquestionably, the richness of input we give our brains – through reading – determines how well equipped we are to analyse and create language.

We must try to read a wide variety of books – doesn’t matter if your interested more in fiction or non-fiction. Just mix it up with different authors, themes and subject matter – whatever may be – make sure you pick up a book and dive in!

Subconscious rules

By exposing your brain to a larger vocabulary and a range of ideas, you are creating a reservoir of useful information for your subconscious mind to make use of automatically. This means you will naturally start to read faster. You will recognise more words on sight and be able to work out meaning and hidden meaning effectively. You will even start to write better, without having to think too much. You are basically adding vital, important images to a storage drive for safe keeping. These images, or symbols, can be recalled at a any time to construct a clearer ‘big picture’.

Truth be told, it is non other than the subconscious overlord who manages this facility! But rest assured, it can do a much better job of it than we ever could. Let’s face the facts, by keeping that part of our brain well-fed and happy, we are guaranteed to keep an extra load off our minds.

Azanmig hhu? Yaeh, and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was the msot ipmorantt!

Qoestuin –
Can thsi be doen in ohter lnagugues? Snapsih, Fenrch, Iatilan, Gerek, Rissuan. Chenise, Jaapense, Herbew, Aaribc? Wyh not fnid out?

If you are struggling to get your child to read, have a look at our essential titles for every child article. Or if you feel like audiobooks suit you better, remember that nothing beats the multi-sensual experience you get from reading a physical book. Find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of e-readers and audiobooks in this article. If you want to discuss this or anything else to do with mental development, why not get in touch?

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