Tag Archives: Science

The Origins of Reading and Writing

The “early visual cortex” – the location where visual information from the eye first impacts the cortex – processes information gave rise to the ability to engrave simple patterns. We know that this area has neurons coding for edges, lines and “T” junctions. As distilled forms, these shapes preferentially activate the visual cortex. […]

At some point from around 700,000 years ago, this sensitivity to geometry and pattern perception enabled humans to start making refined “Acheulean tools”, which exhibit a certain symmetry. This is unlikely to have been possible without an implicit knowledge of geometry. […]

At some point, these unintentional patterns were intentionally copied on such materials [stone, shells, etc.] – developing into engraved designs and later on into writing.

But how was this possible? Neuroscientific research has shown that writing text involves the premotor cortex of the brain, which drives manual skills. My theory therefore suggests that reading and writing evolved when our passive perception for discerning things started to interact with manual dexterity.

Writing and abstract patterns also activate so-called “mirror neurons” in the brain. These brain cells are remarkable because they fire both when we act and when we observe others acting – helping us identify with and understand others as if we ourselves were acting. But they also fire when we view patterns and see written text. This can therefore produce a sense of identification with a pattern – whether accidental or natural – in a way that inspires us to replicate it. And these marks were the first steps to writing and reading.

These developments therefore enabled the brain to reuse the visual cortex for an entirely new purpose. Ultimately, it could have created a new process in the brain that exploited the visual cortex, giving rise to a visual word form area and connecting with speech areas incrementally over time.

From, and more: https://theconversation.com/how-did-reading-and-writing-evolve-neuroscience-gives-a-clue-112337

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Reading Books vs Watching TV

Research shows “The more a child watched television or was exposed to television, even if it was playing in the background, the weaker their understanding of their parents’ mental state. Ultimately, if the television was on in the vicinity of the child, it impaired their theory of mind, which is defined as the ability to recognize their own and another person’s beliefs, intents, desires, and knowledge.”

…”watching too much TV could actually alter the composition of the human brain.  […] the more time spent in front of the TV, the thicker the frontal lobe region of their brains developed. It’s the same area that is known to lower language processing and communication, which researchers suspect is also why [test subjects] had a lower verbal IQ. But that wasn’t all; the hypothalamus, septum, sensory motor region, and visual cortex were all enlarged — these are where emotional responses, arousal, aggression, and vision are processed.”

Meanwhile, “aside from pleasure and practicality, reading [books]  strengthens the neural pathways like any muscle in your body. Even at a young age, children who are read to by their parents develop five enhanced reading skills, which include an advanced vocabulary, word recognition in spoken words, ability to connect written letters to spoken sounds, reading comprehension, and the fluency to read text accurately and quickly.”

More on TV watching and the benefits of Reading Books:
medicaldaily.com/neural-pathways-watching-tv-human-brain-reading-book-389744

More Reading Writing Spying:
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Fiction Benefits Science

“It is hard to deny that science fiction plays a role in inspiring the next generation of scientists and innovators. What may be less obvious, however, is the wide range of other functions the genre serves. Science fiction offers scientists and technologists a chance to step back and assess some of the consequences their work could have on society. Good literature offers the reader the chance to reflect on a complex situation from multiple perspectives.

Science fiction is already being used to help steer technological development. Many companies make use of a technique known as “design fiction” to evaluate the effects of a project before they invest in it.

Science fiction also educates people. People naturally understand stories—they don’t naturally understand formulas or instruction manuals. Science and technology have become so complex that the majority of people that are supposed to benefit from these fields don’t have a chance of really understanding them. Increasing sophistication has given rise to another demand science fiction must fill—making real science accessible and interesting to people.”

From:  thelamron.com/2015/04/10/fiction-is-the-future/

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Brain’s Visual Dictionary aids Reading

… “study supports the idea that when we learn a new word visually – by reading it rather than hearing it spoken aloud – a small part of the brain, located behind the left ear, creates a mental image of the word. Instead of remembering it as a string of letters or syllables, this region, called the visual word form area, gets trained to recognize the entire word as a pattern, forming a “visual dictionary” of our vocabulary. Representing written words in this way helps us recognize them more easily – and read faster.

“We know that in efficient readers this visual word form area is the area that seems to change the most as we learn to read,” said study author Max Reisenhuber, a neuroscientist at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington D.C.”

From: insidescience.org/content/picturing-words-makes-faster-readers/2706

Visit my page: http://www.spywriter.com

Hitmen, Fiction vs Real Life (and Death)

A must for readers and writers of thrillers:

“A group of researchers at the Center for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University in the U.K. has recently analyzed newspaper articles, court records, and a series of “off-the-record” interviews with informants “who have, or who had, direct knowledge of contract killings” in order to construct what they term a “typology” of British hitmen.” …

“The main thrust of the paper, which will be published in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, is that hitmen do not operate with the drama, professionalism, or glamour that mob films and spy novels afford them. In actuality, the majority of killers select jejune settings for their crimes, have occasionally bumbling performances, and are often hired by contractors with lame motivations.”

“Here’s the profile of an average British hitman, who seems more confined by the boxy restraints of reality than the undulating arcs of fiction:”

“He kills on the cheap. The average asking price was £15,180. It was £100,000 at the highest level, and a teenager was shafted with £200 at the low end.” …

“The weapon of choice was a firearm.” …

“Most of the killers were working on first-time contracts, meaning there weren’t many long-distance snipers taking shots from towers.” …

READ MORE: http://www.psmag.com/navigation/politics-and-law/how-hitmen-operate-73430/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+miller-mccune%2Fmain_feed+%28Pacific+Standard+-+Main+Feed%29

Reading Novels = Body-shifting

“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically,” says neuroscientist Gregory Berns.”

“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” Berns says.”

“The neural changes were not just immediate reactions, Berns says, since they persisted the morning after the readings, and for the five days after the participants completed the novel.”

“It remains an open question how long these neural changes might last,” Berns says. “But the fact that we’re detecting them over a few days for a randomly assigned novel suggests that your favorite novels could certainly have a bigger and longer-lasting effect on the biology of your brain.”

Source: http://esciencecommons.blogspot.ca/2013/12/a-novel-look-at-how-stories-may-change.html?m=1

Watching vs Reading

“The fact is, writing is one heck of an informational medium — the best ever invented. Neurological studies show that, as we learn to read, our brains undergo extensive cellular changes that allow us to decipher the meaning of words with breathtaking speed and enormous flexibility. By comparison, gathering information through audio and video media is a slow and cumbersome process.” Nicholas Carr

“A screen-based lifestyle provides a gratifying, easy-sensation ‘yuk and wow’ environment, which doesn’t require a young mind to work….We cannot park our children in front of a screen and expect them to develop a long attention span.”  Professor Susan Greenfield

“Research published in the world’s most reputable medical and scientific journals shows that the sheer amount of time children spend watching TV, DVDs, computers and the internet is linked with significant measurable biological changes in their bodies and brains that may have significant medicalconsequences.” –  Dr. Aric Sigman

“He is part of a generation which, more and more, is reading less and less. This is having a negative impact on writing skills, depth of expression and, in this case, employment prospects, at least while her employers belong to Generation X.”- Chris Harrison

More: tipsfromthetlist.com

Reading Classic Literature Boosts Brain Power

“Reading books can help your brain – of that there is little doubt. But a new scientific study and a recently released book have taken that concept to an entirely new level, showing that what you read, how you read, and how you apply lessons learned from the experience could have a tremendous impact on your thought-processes and problem-solving skills.

Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain… The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”

More: http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112763043/brain-gets-a-boost-from-classical-literature-and-poetry-011413/

SpyWriter Jack King “A new King of thrillers on the horizon” http://www.SpyWriter.com

How writers achieve literary immortality

… “neurobiological forces designed for our survival naturally make interest in art fade. But the forces don’t stop artists from trying for timelessness.

what writers can do to block or slow that natural erosion over time? …

We are evolutionarily designed so that we focus on new objects and ignore familiar ones … When the mind confronts a new object, our perception is intense and vivid, but it soon dies with familiarity. Every minute, this feeling fades as the mind grasps the object.

Many writers in the Romantic tradition are animated by an impossible ambition to indefinitely extend that intensity. … the strategies some literary greats have used to slow the brain’s familiarity and create a never-fading image.

Where science can learn from literature is that it’s not recreating the feeling of the first experience of the drug encounter, but that initial imagery associated with the intensity…”

How to achieve literary immortality? Combine an inkling of familiarity with the unknown. “Literary immortality is achieved by immersing the reader in an extraordinary experience outside the realm of their reality. Vagueness also works to keep the mind active. It isn’t about a good or complicated plot in the story.”

READ MORE: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121213151442.htm
SpyWriter Jack King: www.SpyWriter.com | FaceBook | Twitter

Dissolvable espionage

Imagine spy devices that dissolve completely into nothingness…

“The technology, which will be announced in a paper this week in Science, is called transient electronics or resorbable electronics. These systems work until they are no longer needed, at which point they dissolve completely away—the dissolution triggered by ordinary water in their operating environment. …

It’s not hard to imagine the uses of small electronic devices that vanish without a trace when exposed to water. Disappearing sensors and other spy gear could be air-dropped or strategically embedded in hostile environments with no one the wiser. …

The work is being funded in part by DARPA, the Defense Department’s mad science arm, which sees a range of applications. To no one’s surprise, though, those uses are classified.”I can’t get into those details,” he tells PM.” Source: http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/health/breakthroughs/transient-electronics-could-dissolve-inside-your-body-13098637?click=pm_latest

The spies can’t tell you what their plans are, but this thriller writer can – a spy device based on the above concept is used by characters in my latest novel THE BLACK VAULThttp://www.spywriter.com/tbv/index.html

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