A new study shows that Arabic readers recognize words in a different way from readers of other languages. Does this mean their brains are different? If so, it could help explain the continual tensions between East and West.

The study shows that there are clear differences in how the right and left sides of the brain recognize Arabic words. Science Daily quotes psychologist Abubaker Almabruk says, "Differences in left and right brain function influence the recognition of words each side of where a reader is looking on a page but only when these words are outside of central vision–this reveals both left/right brain specialization for reading and evidence that the two halves of the brain collaborate when making sense of words in central vision. Native Arabic readers recognize Arabic words most efficiently when they fixate these words at their very center."

In other words, Western readers use their peripheral vision more.

Almabruk says, "This might have happened because Arabic is read from right to left and words are formed from cursive text (the letters in Arabic naturally join together, even in printed formats, much like hand-written text in English)."

In light of the standoff between Israel and Palestine, it’s interesting to note that both Arabic and Hebrew have linked words that are read right to left.

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