Reading and understanding language is a skill that most people take for granted. Processing language in the brain is very complex and entails many variables. Most language is processed in the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere processes visual and motor activities - States Stanislas Dehaene.
"When we look at a text photons are bouncing off those black squiggles and lines -- the letters in the particular sentence -- and colliding with a thin wall of flesh at the back of your eyeball. The photons contain just enough energy to activate sensory neurons, each of which is responsible for a particular plot of visual space on the hole image. The end result is that, as you stare at the letters, they become more than mere marks on a page. You begin to read "- Says Jonah Lehrer.
- Seeing the letters is just the start of the reading process. Although our eyes are focused on the letters, we learn to ignore them. Instead, we perceive whole words, chunks of meaning. Once we become proficient at reading, the precise shape of the letters -- not to mention the arbitrariness of the spelling -- doesn't even matter, which is why we read word, WORD, and WoRd the same way.
- Until now most assumed that when we read both eyes look at the same letter of a word concurrently. But it was found that our eyes look at different letters in the same word and then combine the different images through a process known as fusion. We were able to clearly show that we experience a single, very clear and crisp visual representation due to the merging of the two different images from each eye.
- Language tends to be stored in the brain to be processed in audio format, so besides reading the text we automatically convert it to speach in our own heads. After that the process of making sense takes place.
- Studies have shown that when a word is checked against the storehouse of words in the brain - whether it is a written word or a word-sound - only the main part of the word is checked first, and then the ending is processed separately. For example, 'sing', 'singing' and 'singer' would all be checked against the base word 'sing'.
- Once we recognized the printed words we need to make sense out of them. Understanding how meaning arises from those words is of the most challenging tasks in cognitive sciences.
- More on making sense and meanings can be found here and here.
- There is an onging debate whether the new kind of reading experience provided by internet is benefitial or not. Some interesting articles are worth exploring: Is google making us stupid and How is google making us smarter. It would be interesting to incorporate the last scientific findings about how or brain reads in order to draw new and more accurate conclusions.