“Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.”
I’m sure many of you have seen this meme at some point in the past years. A few weeks ago, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and came across this. At a glance, I had no idea what it meant and thought it was just a bunch of random letters put together. But, this caught my eyes for sure.
Once I looked at it closely it was not hard to read at all. The sentence made me realized that our brains are talented. However, after researching this topic, I came across a blog-post, posted by MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit under the University of Cambridge where the scientist, Dr. Matt Davis, said that the information in the meme is not true. He states that although Cambridge does have a Cognition and Brain Science Unit, not only did they not research this topic at the time but also did not release it. Although most of the statement in the meme is false, there are some true elements.
The ability to understand words when the first and last letters are stable, but the middle letters are scrambled is known as “typoglycemia”. Your brain is able to put them back in order or even recognized the word as a whole without arranging them. This explains how we can identify words in a bunch of letter pieces and how we are able to skim when reading.
So, why are we able to read this without any trouble for this meme?
There are a few reasons:
- Words are short
- Function words that provide grammatical structure (i.e. be, a, the, etc.) are not messed up
- Letters beside each other are switched making it not much more difficult for readers to read
- When scrambling the order of the letters, the sound is still preserved
- The word choices are predictable
Another interesting feature about this is, is that this sentence can be recreated in many other languages, such as Spanish, Russian, German, Danish, etc. However other languages such as Chinese and Japanese will not work this way. This is because the language uses symbols/characters in their writing system. Thai would also be another example where translating and scrabbling will not work. This is because their writing system does not place any spaces between the words.
This video here give a deeper explanation how the bread is able to read scrambled letters.
Credit: YouTube Channel: BrainStuff – HowStuffWorks
From this meme, I understood that social media can make something fiction a fact. I believe that this is very unfortunate, do to the fact that many people around the world are informed through social media. Once they believe in something, it is very hard to fix their beliefs and eliminated what has already said.