Neuroscientists at UC Davis have come up with a way to observe brain activity during natural reading. It’s the first time researchers have been able to study the brain while reading actual texts, instead of individual words, and it’s already helping settle some ideas about just how we read.
The team has applied the technology to test ideas about how words are represented in the brain. There are two theories about this, Henderson said. The first holds that words are represented by connections to the real world: What does it look like, how do I handle it, how does it make me feel, reflected in brain areas for vision, touch, emotion and so on. The second theory holds that words are represented as abstract symbols that interact with each other.
To test these ideas, Henderson and colleagues scored the nouns in their test paragraphs for “manipulability”: do they refer to real objects that can be manipulated to some degree?
As volunteers read the manipulable nouns, areas of the brain that deal with manipulation and carrying out physical actions lit up, lending support to the view that words are represented in the brain by connections with real actions. (1)
Sounds great. But tautological in every sense. When reading about manipulable nouns it is mostly natural to think about how to… manipulate them. We are first taught materialism and then we are… surprised to discover it in our thought.
But what about words which are NOT related to action?
These words are the words which make the world go around. Not words about tools, matter or tangible objects. But world about abstract ideas like freedom, honor, love, axioms, infinity.
Somehow somewhere there are two perfectly parallel lines.
I believe in them.
I have not seen them.
But I know they exist…
Am I a stubborn human?
Or a God?
Euclid is drawing on the sand. And the universe is watching speechless.