To this man, numbers look like scrambled “spaghetti” but his brain works fine. What’s going on?

for some people stress can contribute to depressive symptoms that connection may be linked to sero
Credit: Shutterstock

RFS is the first patient with an inability to see numbers. “He sees something … a scramble of lines and he calls it spaghetti,” [said Michael McCloskey, a professor of cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University].. RFS knows that what he’s seeing is a number — though he doesn’t know which number — just because he doesn’t see this series of nonsense lines for anything else.

And he can’t memorize the different orientations of lines and assign a number to them, because they change every time he looks away and looks back, McCloskey said. “What is most striking though is that it affects the numbers and not other symbols,” he told Live Science. Symbols or letters may look similar to numbers; a capital B, for example, looks like an 8. But he has no problem seeing letters or other characters.

Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.
Related article:  Why is your memory so bad when you're hungry?

[R]esearchers conducted a word test in which they had RFS press a button every time he saw a particular word, such as “tuba.” When the researchers embedded that word in a number, he didn’t see the word and wouldn’t press the button.

Yet his brain activity was the same regardless of whether the target word was alone or inside of a digit. That suggests that his brain does all of the complex processing and knows he’s viewing the word and what word it is — but that knowledge never comes up in his awareness, [researcher David] Rothlein said. 

So it seems “you can do an awful lot of work in the brain to know what it is you’re looking at without any awareness resulting from that,” McCloskey said. 

hsxhvt mmmgtm tx cwvgf
Credit: Johns Hopkins University

Read the original post

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend