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What Happens When I Mirror Read?

Researchers want to know: Chemical surges and electric constructions. Physical shifts and cognitive leaps. And Transfer Effects.

There is growing evidence that when we practice mirror reading, the resulting proficiencies transfer to other tasks on which we haven’t been trained.

Thus, as we mirror read, we develop aptitudes beyond reading reversed text.

Around the world neuropsychologists explore the generalizeability of mirror reading skills and the implications for applied learning. The question was asked by a team of researchers led by Dr Sven Hilbert in Munich, at the Ludwig-Maximilians University who detailed their findings in “Mirror reading of words and numbers: Practice and transfer effects.”(Visual Cognition, June, 2014).

Hilbert et al. contend that mirror reading involves complex processing skills that can transfer to other stimulus conditions.

As motivation for their study, the authors cite research by Schuett et al (2008) who showed that mirror reading practice was effective for improving reading performance in patients with hemianopic dyslexia.

Hilbert’s team found that participants who practiced reading mirror-reversed words also enhanced their performance at reading reversed digits – an untrained task. The processing of words and numbers is said to involve different neural networks; increased proficiency at reading mirrored digits indicates that mirror reading training extends beyond the behaviour itself. Transfer effects.

Hilbert’s findings support research showing that brain networks involved in the processing of text and numbers are different and connected, at least in the initial stages of processing.

The researchers note that theirs is the first study “to demonstrate significant transfer effects of mirror reading to non-lexical material.” However, they caution that because no neuron imaging techniques were used, conclusions about what is happening at the neuronal level remain speculative.

Given the links between mirror reading proficiencies and right brain growth in regions associated with spatial transformations, the field of transfer effects is ripe for real world research.

What transfer effects do you notice as a result of your mirror reading practice? We can start to understand what happens when we mirror read by noticing changes in our own memory abilities and spatial awareness – and be at the forefront of a new wave of research on learning.

Please let us know what you notice:

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