Neuroscientists joke reading is a form of brainwashing

Emma Haslett
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Thought literacy was a good thing? Think again - one neuroscientist has joked that it "makes us defenceless against an army of 26 letters".

Lidia Stanton, a specialist in dyslexia at the University of Leicester, posted a response to the Quora question "what are some things that neuroscientists know but most people don't?".

Stanton said cognitive psychologists often joke reading is a "form of brainwashing", because when presented with a word, we find reading it irresistible.

"If I put a word or two in front of your eyes, you'll feel compelled to read it - your brain does it for you automatically before you decide whether to read or not."

In fact, she points out people are quicker at reading than they are at identifying other visual cues, such as pictures or colours.

She alludes to the so-called Stroop paradigm, which posits that when people are under time pressure, they are more likely to make mistakes when they're asked to identify the colour a word is printed in when it's a different word.

(Source: Quora)

"The learning to read process is irreversible," she adds,

"This is why it is a kind of 'brainwashing' - the choice has been taken away from us."

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