According to recent findings released by the Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain, and Languages (Spain), human beings have an amazing ability to mentally rotate words and letters reflected in a mirror during the early stages of visual processing, allowing for automatic understanding. In the study, 27 participants were shown 3 types of images for 50 milliseconds each: words with some of the letters and other information rotated; images in which the entire word was rotated; and words written normally. Their brain activity was monitored using electrodes. Results showed that at 150 to 200 milliseconds from the time of presentation, the participants’ brain responses were the same for the mirrored words and letters as when the same words and letters were read normally. Researchers coined this uncanny ability the “mirror rotation property” of the visual system.

The researchers state that “rotating letters is not a problem that is exclusive to some dyslexics, since everybody often does this in a natural and unconscious way” at an early age. Researchers are now trying to figure out why the mirror rotation property is ultimately inhibited in the typical reader and writer once formal schooling gets underway, but not always in those with reading and writing disabilities (so that , for example, “b” is perceived or written as “d”).