Shelagh Robinson Mirror Read Blog 23: Face Writing

When you sign your name to something, is it your brain doing the writing, or your hand?
Strange question?  The answer shows how mirroring our letters comes naturally to lots of us.

Try this simple exercise:

1. Grab a pen and notebook with a blank paper – larger can be safer.
2. Hold the paper up to your chin (or forehead).
3.Write your name on the paper. Be spontaneous.  Don’t overthink.  Just write.

Then look. If you reversed your letters, you are in very good company. You might even have written from right to left without realizing.

In the last few months I have had lots of encounters with casual name-writers, kids and adults alike, who, after signing their signatures in the way described above, found themselves reading their names in mirror text.

What’s up? In each of these people’s minds, when signing their chins, they had written their name as usual. But physical memory clearly had a hand in the results.

To write our names on our chins in the proper orientation, we must overcome our bodies with our brains.  This means coming off autopilot when we didn’t even know we were on.

Interestingly, most people who write backwards on their chins do so easily, without thinking. But when specifically asked to sign their name in reverse, they hesitate, and errors are frequent.

To the question:
When we perform such complex tasks, we rely on rote physical memory, which, in some cases, doesn’t know left from right?

Perhaps.  As children, before we fully “lateralize” – discover that left and right matter – we often mix up our mirrored images. As we age, when asked to do something we know “by heart,” we assume that our body knows what to do.

It does. And backwards.
Try to write your name on your chin in the correct orientation; I’d love to know how many tries it takes for you to achieve a ‘normal’ signature.

And I challenge right-handers to do as well as the lefties…

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