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Haiku and the Brain

And now for something completely different!

Haiku have been used for many purposes — advertising jingle, koan, death verse, meditation aid, business slogan, pop psychology aperçu, not to mention poem — but probably never quite like this: an interdisciplinary project, bringing together haiku poets and theorists with neuro-cognitive psychologists and linguists, in hopes of answering some fundamental questions, such as: What is happening in the ‘mind-brain’ as we read haiku? What can we learn about brain function by investigating the reading of haiku? And, conversely, what can we learn about haiku by studying brain processes.

This group is using haiku to help us understand how the brain processes words into meaning, based on the information that can be gleaned from tracking eye movements during the reading of haiku. As a consequence of this research, the group is now involved in discussions with scientists from around the world about their findings, and has published several papers and will appear at a symposium on the subject in August 2017. We thought you’d like to see what’s being done in this fascinating field.

Our first, tentative results of this work have already become available. Further studies, including the measurement of brain activity, are under way. For the broader objectives of this project, the methods employed, results obtained to date, publication abstracts, and the people involved, visit our Haiku and the Brain page.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Michael Nickels-Wisdom had this to say about our “Haiku and the Brain” page:

    “This seems excitingly compatible with Peter Mendelsund’s book _What We See When We Read: A Phenomenology with Illustrations_ (NY: Vintage Books, 2014).”

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