How Your Brain Synonymises You
Neuroscientists at MIT have discovered that people with a “brain fog” or lack of concentration often experience brain synonymity in everyday situations.
“People with this problem can make a mistake with the words they say and it will happen to other people,” says Daniel T. Gogel, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at MIT.
In his study, published online today in the journal Neuron, Gogels and colleagues found that synonymization in everyday communication is caused by a reduction in the brain’s ability to focus.
“Our findings suggest that people who suffer from cognitive impairments may have difficulty coordinating their thoughts,” Gogelo says.
This finding suggests that we may have some way to treat cognitive disorders such as ADHD and depression.
“I think there’s something about our brains that needs attention,” says neuroscientist and neuropsychologist Andrew Cohen, who was not involved in the study.
Cohen has been studying synonymism for more than 20 years.
He believes the neural mechanisms underlying synonymisation are not fully understood.
“Synonymity is a neural phenomenon,” he says.
“It’s a phenomenon that we all experience.
People experience it all the time.
You don’t have to have a cognitive disorder to experience synonymising.”
The researchers studied four people: a person who was highly dependent on attention, a person with mild ADHD, a participant with mild schizophrenia and a control group of healthy volunteers.
The subjects were presented with three different sentences, each with different synonym meanings.
The participants were asked to choose one of the three words from each sentence.
The word chosen was used for the synonym in the next sentence.
Participants in the low-focus group tended to choose the synonyms more often than the other two groups.
But, Cohen says, the participants who had more trouble with synonym selection were more likely to say they used synonyms in the same sentence in the middle of the sentence.
Cohen’s team has shown that people can synchronise their thoughts in real-life situations such as driving, walking or playing a game.
But he says there’s little to no evidence that synonyms are better at helping people cope with the challenges of everyday life.
“If you’re not able to make good choices in everyday life, synonym formation may be a problem,” he notes.
“We may be missing something in our everyday lives.
Synonym formation is something that is difficult to predict.”
Gogeland says there are a number of possible explanations for why people are unable to synchronise with their synonyms.
“Maybe the brain is not as good as we think it is, maybe we don’t get enough stimulation, maybe people don’t learn enough language, maybe there are some other things,” he explains.
Cohen says synonym creation may have to do with the brain and its ability to process information.
“There are some areas of the brain that are more sensitive to information processing,” he said.
“In these areas, synonyms may be more useful.”
Gugel says it’s important to be aware of the difference between synonym and synesthetic.
Synesthetic synonym refers to the ability to perceive meaning in a context and synonym synonym means the same word or word combinations.
Synonyms are the most common synonym meaning, and synonyms often have higher frequency in the vocabulary.
The brain, however, is not the same as a dictionary, Cohen notes.
It’s like trying to describe a dog with a face that resembles a cat.
“When you’re trying to explain a cat, there are many different ways to describe it.
We have to use the same terminology to describe cats that we have to describe dogs.
Synonymous synonym is an everyday, everyday word that’s used in everyday conversations.”
The next step for the research is to explore the effect of synonyms on the brain.
Cohen and Gogelman are also investigating the possibility that synoms may be associated with certain cognitive disorders.
The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to track brain activity during the task.
The fMRI scan showed that the synoms’ brains showed activity when they were using synonyms and when they weren’t.
In the low brain areas, brain activity was higher when the synamics were using the synom.
The researchers plan to use this data to investigate whether synoms help people cope in everyday settings.
“The way we’re going to investigate synonym use is in the context of cognitive impairment, which is a common neuropsychological disorder that’s very common,” Cohen says.
GOGEL and his colleagues also hope to investigate how synonyms relate to people’s ability and motivation to do everyday tasks.
They are currently looking at how people can improve their mental health through their daily activities.