A study has shown that our brain often works on autopilot when it comes to grammar.
That theory has been around for years, but University of Oregon neuroscientists have captured elusive hard evidence that people detect grammatical errors with no awareness of doing so.
Participants in the study — native-English speaking people aged 18-30 — had their brain activity recorded. Subjects were given 280 experimental sentences, including grammatically correct and incorrect ones. A tone appeared before or after a grammatical faux pas was presented.
When tones appeared after grammatical errors, subjects detected 89% of the errors.
When the tones appear before the grammatical errors, subjects detected only 51% of them. The tones disrupted participants’ ability to declare errors. But, even when the participants did not notice errors, their brains responded to them.