Hello? Is this thing on?

Comprehension of the written-language is of special interest to cognitive neuroscientists because it deals directly with the same cognitive processes that deal in perception and action.  Research conducted  with patients with lesions in their left frontal, temporal and parietal regions of the brain revealed that reading and spelling share common cognitive processes. An example such studies can be found HERE.  For quick reference, see also:  Reading (Process). I can also recommend Michael S. Gazzaniga’s  The Cognitive Neurosciences III, 2004.

If you’ve ever communicated with a person that incessantly misinterprets what you’v written, you’ll come to realize that it’s not just your communication skills.  It’s the cognition of the reader.  Not to say that we don’t stumble in our efforts to effectively mediate understanding using the written language, we certainly, do but we must also take into account the reader’s perception which compels action. In the case Social Networking Technologies, it may account for particular responses that seem so off base you wonder if you’re speaking Japanese.

language image

When G.I. Gurdjieff prepared his book for publishing to the printer in 1949, he gave this advice:

Read each of my written expositions thrice:

Firstly: at least as you have already become mechanized to read all your contemporary books and newspapers.

Secondly: as if you were reading aloud to another person.

And only thirdly: try and fathom the gist of my writings.Only then will you be able to count upon forming your own impartial judgment, proper to yourself alone, on my writings. And only then can my hope be actualized that according to your understanding you will obtain the specific benefit for yourself which I anticipate, and which I wish for you with all my being.

He elaborates on his reasoning for this process in Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson.  A few years of studying Fourth Way certainly gave my brain some helpful exercises, it certainly didn’t turn me into a Fourth Way Student.

From The Book of SIN

“To know me, is to know my expressions.”

If you’re a subscriber to my blogs and wonder why you might find a Written, Visual and Audio form of the same blog, this is my way of saying that Gurdjieff and I are in agreement on that “Friendly Advice” he offers readers.  It’s not enough to learn the process of reading, it’s extremely helpful to learn different ways to read to understand.  That’s what we all want right?  To understand what it is we’re reading? To be understood?  To take in the knowledge and ‘know’ we understand.  It’s not enough to decipher words, we should take into account the cognitive biases such as but not limited to: Confirmation Bias, Neglecting Probabilities, Observational Selection Biases, Projection Bias, Band-wagon Effect and many more.  There are far too many to list here but for ease of reference, here’s a LINK.    The activity of blogging and participating in forums is a mental exercise.  In a recent discussion with Reap Paden, host of the Modern Satanism podcast, in discussing skepticism I had honed in on being skeptical of even my own thoughts.  In a joking manner Reap asked:  “Do you ever agree with anyone?” to which I replied:  “What’s the fun in that?”   Even though my comment was in jest, the way I delivered my answer, may imply many things to the listener.  To clarify, it is fun, don’t get me wrong but I really am skeptical of my own thoughts and especially when I find myself in agreement; thus I choose an argumentative point to determine if it’s out of cognitive biases or to determine if my thinking is truly rational.

Computers are pretty awesome tools but still no match for the human brain.  Learning RX provides this summation which I find suits my purposes:

Key categories of cognitive skills
To define cognitive skills, it’s important to know that they include a wide variety of abilities. These abilities are necessary for analyzing sounds and images, recalling information, making associations between different pieces of information, and maintaining focus on a given task. Here are the core areas of cognitive skills, all of which can be targeted and strengthened by LearningRx Brain Training programs:

  • Processing Speed: This is the speed at which your brain processes information. Faster processing speed means more efficient thinking and learning.
  • Auditory Processing: This is the ability to analyze, blend and segment sounds. It’s also known as phonemic awareness. Surprisingly, auditory processing is crucial not just for speaking, but also for reading and spelling. This is because when you read, you need to be able to identify the individual and blended sounds that make each word unique and recognizable.
  • Visual Processing: This is the ability to perceive, analyze and think in visual images. Visual processing is imperative for reading, remembering, walking, driving, playing sports and literally thousands of other tasks you do every day.
  • Long-Term Memory: This is the “library” of facts and knowledge you have accumulated in the past.
  • Short-Term Memory: Also called working memory, this skill handles the dynamic job of keeping at the forefront of your mind the information you need to complete immediate and short-term tasks.
  • Logic and Reasoning: This is the ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or new procedures. It enables you to create correlations, solve problems, plan ahead and draw conclusions.
  • Attention Skills: There are three types of attention skills. Sustained Attention is the ability to stay focused and on-task for a period of time.Selective Attention is the ability to quickly sort through incoming information and stay focused on one thing in spite of distractions. Divided Attention is the ability to multi-task.

To keep up with your own brain, there’s two different approaches to reading in traditional methods:

  • Top-down: In top-down models, the decisions made at higher levels of processing are used to guide choices at lower levels.
  • Bottom-up: In bottom-up models of reading, processing starts with the raw input and passes through increasingly refined analyses until the meaning of the text is grasped.

Research hosted by PMC demonstrates that neither method on its own can fully explain the reading process, thus both are used to fully grasp the meaning of a text.  Give it proper context and it explains why so many people reading the same text come away with different meanings than the author intended.  Visual/Audio editions of the same text don’t exactly resolve the issue.   If you combine all (3) methods, you just might be understood rather than constantly asking yourself:

Hello?  Is this thing on?