Science -- Your Future, Scotland's Future
SCI-FUN Roadshow Exhibits -- Conflicting Signals
SCI-FUN Roadshow Exhibits -- Conflicting Signals / Jumbled
Click here to see the word/colour illusion page
In this exhibit you learn about how some parts of your brain are dominant over others.

If your brain is receiving two different pieces of information at once, it can get confused. Sometimes it creates a "best fit" of the two different pieces of information. At other times, the part of the bran receiving one piece of information is dominant over the part receiving the other piece of information. This means your brain ignores one piece of information and follows another.

The language parts of our brains are highly developed. We understand language we read or hear using Wernicke's area in our brain, and we we create spoken or written language using Broca's area. Language be it written or spoken, is the main way human beings communicate information.

We naturally listen to speech over many other noises. Even in noisy places, we tune ourselves in to listen to a single conversation. We can particularly tune ourselves in if we hear a word or subject we're interested in, especially our own names. This is called the Cocktail party effect.

Once we have learned to read, it is almost imposssible for us to look at a word and not read it. We might not read a whole paragraph or sentence, but we will certainly read the single words are our eyes fall on. Reading words isn't something we think about, but we do it all the time.

This part of our brain is so developed, that we often notice language above anything else. We even search for language when it isn't there, like thinking an animal's call sounds like a particular word, or searching for words in random sequences of letters.

Our desire to find language everywhere means that we often read what we want to read, rather than what's actually there. Even the best speller might not notice a spelling mistake, typo, or repeated or missing word in a passage, because they're reading the meaning nto the letters on the page.

1 If your ________ is receiving two different pieces of information at once, it can get ________.
2 What part of your brain understands language?
3 What one word would make you pick out a single conversation in a noisy place?
4 Is reading something we think about?
5 When might you spot language that isn't there?
6 There are five typographic errors on this page. Can you find them?

1 Play the numberplate game. When in the back of a car or on a bus, try make words out of the letters on people's car numberplates going past.
2 A wordsearch shows how we look for words in random sequences of letters. Make a wordsearch using words from this worksheet and give it to someone else to try.