Word Unprocessing, a New Phenomenon
H. W. Gould
Department of Mathematics
West Virginia University, PO Box 6310
Morgantown, WV 26506-6310
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
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
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
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.