I'll get the bad news out of the way first. If you suddenly start mirror-writing out of the blue and unintentionally, you may want to talk to your doctor rather than show off the ability to your friends. Spontaneous acquired mirror-writing may be a sign of a serious neurological problem. On top of that, even if you are an adult and naturally a mirror-writer, some researchers have concerns. It's not regarded as a real issue if small children mirror-write, as their brains are more flexible or neuroplastic than are adult ones. For them it's perfectly natural if they do it (or if they don't).
At four years of age, the presence of mirror writing is generally nothing to be concerned about. To understand why, it's important to know how the ability to write from left to right emerges in a young child. A young child first develops what's called laterality. This is an awareness of "leftness" and "rightness," or at least that the body has two sides. This internal awareness then matures into what's called directionality, which is the recognition and appreciation of right-left, up-down, forward-backward, etc.
By now you're probably wondering why on Earth would I think mirror-writing is something I suggest you try. Didn't I just mention it being a feat connected to cognitive processing errors and dissociative disorders. Well, yes. But only if it is unintentional. If you're doing this intentionally, then we're talking about a totally different matter, and it happens to be a good one.
It turns out that mirror-writing is a very useful (and fun) neurological exercise. As we become adults, our brains make less and less neural connections, instead relying on the old tried-and-true ones it already has established. While this makes you crystallized in what you already know (do you really want to re-learn how to drive a car every time you get behind the wheel?), it can become challenging to learn new things.
Much like a muscle, the brain needs to be exercised and exposed to new exercises. And mirror-writing is a great one.
You see, mirror-writing tends to correlate with having a thicker corpus callosum, and that is the part of the brain that enables the right and left hemisphere to communicate with each other. Furthermore, there is some evidence that mirror-writers have bilateral language centers. With the brain, two isn't always better than one, but in the case of language centers it is. Second-language acquisition comes easier to those with two active language centers, and word play probably does as well.
So give this exercise a try! Start making new neural pathways and cognitive connections. Maybe you'll find learning a new language easier later on.
I should note to parents who want to give their tyke a cognitive boost that I wouldn't force mirror-writing on a small child. Forcing a child to mirror-write is tantamount to forcing a lefthanded child to write with her or his right hand, which science now says is not so great.
For everyone else, here are a few videos to see what mirror-writing looks like. The first video is the only way I can mirror-write now.
Some other interesting facts about mirror-writing
- Mirror writing is likely genetic. So if you are a natural mirror-writer, you can thank your mom or someone from your uterine family line!
- Roughly 1 person in 6,500 is estimated to be a natural mirror-writer.
"As with all entries in Mentathlete, this entry is not to be taken as medical advice. Always consult your physician before pursuing any activity involving your health."