Sunday, October 18, 2009

why collaborative texts are more good than non-collaborative

From a piece in the New York Times last week about "How Nonsense Sharpens the Intellect," in which the author offers statistics that support a fact long argued by poets, that disjunction as found in poets as diverse as Emily Dickinson, Lewis Carroll, Rae Armantrout and Erin Moure, is actually a very useful poetic, that like the uncanny, makes the mind leap in interesting ways, opening up new neural pathways. Researchers--and many book reviewers around the globe--assume people won't be able to make sense of dissonant texts, that difficult poetry is often self-indulgent poetry. But check this out:
The test is a standard measure of what researchers call implicit learning: knowledge gained without awareness. The students had no idea what patterns their brain was sensing or how well they were performing.
But perform they did. They chose about 30 percent more of the letter strings, and were almost twice as accurate in their choices, than a comparison group of 20 students who had read a different short story, a coherent one.
“The fact that the group who read the absurd story identified more letter strings suggests that they were more motivated to look for patterns than the others,” Dr. Heine said. “And the fact that they were more accurate means, we think, that they’re forming new patterns they wouldn’t be able to form otherwise.”
Brain-imaging studies of people evaluating anomalies, or working out unsettling dilemmas, show that activity in an area called the anterior cingulate cortex spikes significantly. The more activation is recorded, the greater the motivation or ability to seek and correct errors in the real world, a recent study suggests. “The idea that we may be able to increase that motivation,” said Dr. Inzlicht, a co-author, “is very much worth investigating.”
So yes, let them wonder their way into poetry and beyond.

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