Brain processing of language

tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu tivol at tethys.ph.albany.edu
Tue Jun 14 15:19:38 EST 1994


Martin Hoekstra inquired about (among other things) whether it is easier for
the brain to process spoken or written language.  As a complete non-expert,
it occurs to me that in the case of spoken language, primates and other anim-
als living in groups evolved signals (for danger, food, etc.) which enhance
survival.  Spoken human language is a sophisticated adaptation of these.  On
the other hand, written language is a set of visual patterns with a 1-to-1
correspondance to spoken language.  In the former case, processing is from
the ear through the optic nerve through pattern recognition--some of which is
*very* fast--to a language center (I think the "output" and "input" speech
centers are not identical, though there may be overlap).  In the latter case
the optic nerve and pattern recognition *for text* may not be as fast.  I see
a few lines ago I said "ear through the optic nerve", where, of course, I
meant auditory nerve.  I also appologise to anyone who might be offended at
my use of the word "evolved" ;-)}

						Yours

						Bill Tivol



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