Reading Jumbled Words: How Our Brain Makes Sense of Chaos
Have you ever encountered a meme on social media where the words are jumbled up, yet you can still read it without any difficulty? It’s a fascinating phenomenon that has intrigued scientists for decades. This article aims to provide clarity regarding why it is possible that we are able to read words, even when the letters are jumbled.
Origins of the Jumbled Words Meme
The jumbled words meme has been around for a while, with variations of it circulating on the internet. The original meme that started this trend is often attributed to research from Cambridge University. According to the meme, it doesn’t matter in what order the letters in a word are, the only important thing is that the first letter be at the right place. The rest can be a total mess, and you can still read it without a problem. This is because the human mind does not read every letter by itself, but the word as a whole.
However, it needs to be recognized that such research was not done by Cambridge University. The meme started circulating towards the end of 2003, and at the time, the origins of its source were unknown. It now seems that the origins of the meme can be credited to Graham Rawlinson of Nottingham University, who wrote a paper on “The Significance of Letter Position in Word Recognition.”
Can Some People Actually Not Read These Memes?
The meme suggests that not everyone can read the jumbled letters. However, it is fair to say that the majority of people are able to read them. There is no scientific evidence to suggest that only people with a strong mind can read these memes.
What is the Science Behind This?
The origins of the jumbled words meme may be unclear, but the science behind it is quite fascinating. As the original meme suggests, we read words in their entirety, not focusing on the individual letters. However, there is more to it than just that.
Consider three sentences mentioned in an article from the MRC, Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit:
1. A vheclie epxledod at a plocie cehckipont near the UN haduqertares in Bagahdd on Mnoday kilinlg the bmober and an Irqai polcie offceir.
2. Big ccunoil tax ineesacrs tihs yaer hvae seezueqd the inmcoes of mnay pneosenirs.
3. A dootcr has aimttded the magltheuansr of a tageene ceacnr pintaet who deid aetfr a hatospil durg blendur.
You probably found these sentences increasingly hard to read. The first and last letters (although a factor) are not the only thing you use when reading the text. There are other factors to consider that become increasingly evident with more complex words and sentence structures. For example, if the re-ordering of letters creates the possibility for multiple words, it becomes more difficult to read.
However, for straightforward sentences, the first and last letter rule applies. This holds true for sentences where words are short, function words are used (be, the, etc.), jumbling of adjacent letters occur (exterior letters are easier to detect than middle letters), re-ordering of letters does not create another word, and predictable text is used (you can guess what words are coming next).
Most of us are able to read those memes of jumbled words on the internet. In these instances, the sentences are straightforward, and the first and last letter rule applies. However, this is not true for more complex sentences where the re-ordering of letters allows for multiple words to be created.
Understanding how our brain makes sense of chaos is an interesting area of research that has far-reaching implications. It could potentially lead to the development of new teaching methods that are more effective in helping students learn and retain information. If you want to have some fun with this, why not visit the Jumbler and test your skills at reading jumbled words?