Learning from our mistakes

… but not in the usual sense :-)

Various people have noticed that the errors we make can give interesting insight into brain processes that are normally invisible. I think I’ve read that Douglas Hofstadter shares this interest, and keeps an error log for later analysis.

Errors committed in the process of handwriting are a good example. Here’s one I caught a few days ago. The phrase was ‘shoe repair’; I was writing lower-case italic (I seldom use a true cursive) and found that I had started to turn the first stroke of the first ‘r’ into a descender. I analyze this as bleed-forward from the planned formation of the ‘p’ that was to have been the next consonant. I think I have noticed, from this and similar cases of interference, that consonant letters seem to occupy sort of a separate ‘channel’ in the brain.

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