Thinking Process Determined through a Harry Potter Book

February 15, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. model /ˈmɒd l/ (n.) – a mathematical or scientific system that makes calculation and prediction easier
Example: He created a new mathematical model using old formulas.

2. neural /ˈnʊər əl, ˈnyʊər-/ (adj.) – dealing with the nervous system or with nerves in general
Example: An injury to the spine may severely damage neural functions.

3. excerpt /ˈɛk sɜrpt/ (n.) – a short passage from a piece of writing
Example: The professor asked the students to read only some excerpts of the book.

4. integrate /ˈɪn tɪˌgreɪ t/ (v.) – to bring together two or more things so they become whole
Example: The researchers will integrate all their research on dogs into one journal.

5. neurological /nʊˈrɒl ə dʒɪ kəl/ (adj.) – concerning the study of diseases affecting the nervous system
Example: The patient’s headaches were a neurological symptom. 


Read the text below.
Neuroscientists have developed a method to determine a person’s thinking process while reading a book. 

Their study introduces a model that can identify and incorporate all the brain activities that occur when reading a book, particularly fiction stories.

The model can simultaneously produce two results. First, it can identify the different neural processes taking place while reading. These processes include linguistic interpretation—such as defining words—and literary understanding—such as getting to know the characters. Second, the model can provide a detailed brain map that displays which brain region is associated with a particular reading process.

To demonstrate how the model works, the researchers conducted an experiment using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans. They asked eight participants to read two excerpts from the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. While reading, the participants were monitored using fMRI scanning.

The researchers then analyzed the fMRI images using their model. This includes compiling all the brain activities in visual brain maps. Each map shows the brain activities happening in every four words read by a participant.

Results show that parts of the book focusing on character development activate the brain region that observes other people’s intention. On the other hand, the part where Harry Potter and his friends were learning how to fly on brooms was associated with the brain region that processes people’s movements.

Although the model still needs more improvement, it is considered an important progress in the field of neuroscience. It is the first method of reading brain scans in which several brain activities are integrated into one visual brain map. The model can thus lead to new ways of studying neurological disorders and learning problems.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         What can we gain from studying about our thinking process?
·         In your opinion, how can the results of this study be beneficial to people, in general? Please explain your answer. 
Discussion B

·         What about the brain would you be most interested to know more about? Why?
·         What, for you, is a good reading or learning strategy when you encounter a difficult book? Please explain your answer.  

February 15, 2015