Word Unprocessing, a New Phenomenon

H. W. Gould

Department of Mathematics
West Virginia University, PO Box 6310
Morgantown, WV 26506-6310
email: gould@math.wvu.edu

    I have observed a possibly new neural phenomenon which indicates some interaction between my brain and the computer. For want of a traditional name for the new phenomenon, I will call it "word unprocessing."

    As the author of several hundred articles, mostly technical mathematical papers and several books, I used traditional mechanical typing from 1945 through 1987, and then began to use a computer. I used Microsoft Word until around 2006, and have used Tex or Latex since that time. In the time since 2006 I have begun to observe a peculiar visual phenomenon which I shall now describe.

    What happens is that after typing material like this article, or entering symbols in Tex or Microsoft Word, if I then relax just a bit and close my eyes, but not too tightly, then I observe a panorama before me consisting of horizontal lines running far to the left and far to the right. The lines appear somewhat like ruled paper, with the space between the lines being maybe a quarter of an inch. The lines appear like lines of material I have just typed. The lines will be filled with material I have typed.

    But now the phenomenon begins. Directly in front of me there will be two or three spaces, occupying short rectangular boxes, maybe two or three inches long. Strings of symbols, letters, numerals, that I have typed begin coming from the left side and run to the right, whereupon a blinking cursor begins coming from the right hand side and then systematically erases each symbol it meets. It will jump from one line to the other, erasing each symbol that comes from the left. Eventually, if I watch long enough, then everything I have previously typed is erased and the panorama vanishes.

     I wonder if anyone else has experienced this strange unprocessing of strings of text.

    Is this phenomenon somehow connected with a possible conditioning of my mental processes in the central processing unit of my brain that is making me see everything in reverse until it is thoroughly erased?

    I do not observe the unprocessing when sleeping or when wide awake and with my eyes wide open. And it only occurs immediately after typing material.

    For many years I have always spelled words backwards, or even learned to pronounce words and sentences in reverse. But that is not erasing the letters. Memory is a very interesting phenomenon itself. With word unprocessing it is like forgetting in the reverse order, from the last symbol typed on back to the first symbol typed.

    I would like to hear from anyone who has heard of or experienced the phenomenon of "word unprocessing" as I have described it. It might be of interest to researchers in neuroscience.

Morgantown, WV, Monday 16 March 2009 C.E.