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Research suggests that your body knows you made a typo when your conscious mind simply can't be bothered

Laura June
11.01.10
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This may or may not come as a shocker to you -- but when you make a typo, your body can tell, according to a new study at Vanderbilt University. The study monitored a group of people who could type at least 40 WPM consistently as they transcribed copy. In analyzing the typists' key strokes, researchers found that interestingly, even if a typist's mistake was immediately 'silently' corrected onscreen by those running the study, the typist's fingers fumbled or paused, signaling an 'awareness' that a mistake had been made. Essentially, this means that while the conscious mind may not know that a mistake has been made (especially if there's no visual evidence of it), the part of the brain that controls the fingers typing movements have some awareness of the mistakes. For those of us who spend our lives banging away at a keyboard, these preliminary results won't really come as any surprise -- the feeling of having made a mistake is pretty instinctual. Regardless, the results suggest a hierarchical manner of mistake detection in humans, the "lower" more instinctual part of the brain recognizing and correcting the mistake, while the conscious part of the brain assigns credit and blame. Now if we could just figure out what part of our brain is responsible for relentlessly pointing out others' typos, we'd be set.

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