Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homographs: Right - Left Brain Links... [Hemispheric Integration]

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Homographs, for you ever-curious Braintenancers, are words which are always spelled in the same way but have multiple meanings in varied contexts. Some simple examples are words such as "keys," "lead," and "   .". The curious mental magic associated with reading or spelling with these words forces your right brain (the artistic, abstract , conceptualist) to cooperate with your left brain (the literal, pattern-seeking, logical, analytic computer) to solve puzzles, questions or jokes which cause you to simultaneously and creatively access both hemispheres of your brain. In doing this left-right "getting to know you" exercise, your thinking processes will improve in a number of aspects. you will find yourself able to look at every grouping of words in several different ways. It allows you to develop synergy between your imagination and your direct logic. 
These words have the advantage of improving your punsmanship, your understanding of double entendres and your deciphering of subtle concealed messages within seemingly simple combinations of words. Your perception of words and meanings will deepen, as will you appreciation of native language:
Just compiling a list of these homographs can be a challenging referencing exercise. Here are a few to start off your list, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Many of these have first syllables that evolved from Latin prepositions, although again that does not account for all of them. Also, some of these words only exhibit the stress alternation in certain varieties of English. For a list of homographs with different pronunciations (heteronyms) see List of heteronyms
Do you know where words are stored in your brain…?
In your tem­po­ral lobe! 
As you know your brain has two sides (two hemi­spheres) con­nected by the cor­pus cal­lo­sum. So you have one tem­po­ral lobe on each side of the brain. Let's get them to wok together.
If you are right-handed, your lan­guage is stored mostly in your left tem­po­ral lobe. If you are left-handed, you are not so lat­er­al­ized and your lan­guage is stored a bit on both sides of your brain in the tem­po­ral lobes.
Words in the brain are not stored ran­domly. They seemed to be quite orga­nized. Research has shown that words that are often heard together (such as salt and pep­per) or words that share some mean­ing (such as nurse and doc­tor) are con­nected or asso­ci­ated in the brain. Once you hear one, the other is activated.
Here is a brain exer­cise whose aim is to stim­u­late the con­nec­tions or asso­ci­a­tions between words in your tem­po­ral lobe.
In the left col­umn you have a pair of words. Your goal is to find a third word that is con­nected or asso­ci­ated with both of these two words.
The first pair is PIANO and LOCK. The answer is KEY. The word key is con­nected with both the word piano and the word lock: there are KEYS on a piano and you use a KEY to lock doors.
Once Again: Key is what is called a homo­graph: a word that has more than one mean­ing but is always spelled the same.
Ready to stim­u­late con­nec­tions in your tem­po­ral lobe(s)? Enjoy! (Solu­tions are below. Please don’t check them until you have tried to solve all the pairs!)

Ready to stim­u­late con­nec­tions in your tem­po­ral lobe(s)? Enjoy! (Solu­tions are below. Please don’t check them until you have tried to solve all the pairs!)
Pascale Michelon— This arti­cle was inspired by a piece writ­ten by Pas­cale Mich­e­lon, Ph. D., for SharpBrains.com. Dr. Mich­e­lon has a Ph.D. in Cog­ni­tive Psy­chol­ogy and has worked as a Research Sci­en­tist at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity in Saint Louis, in the Psy­chol­ogy Depart­ment. She con­ducted sev­eral research projects to under­stand how the brain makes use of visual infor­ma­tion and mem­o­rizes facts. She is now an Adjunct Fac­ulty at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity, and teaches Mem­ory Work­shops in numer­ous retire­ment com­mu­ni­ties in the St Louis area. Douglas E. Castle and The Braintenance Blog graciously offer their thanks to both Dr. Michelon and SharpBrains.com.
Here are some of the answers to the questions above: PIPE. You simply have to find the rest of them by clapping those two hemispheres together!

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