Dr. Suprakash Roy appears in The Best Seller, a novel by Arunabha Sengupta.

A cyber conscious mender of minds, he is interested in the effect of the modern world of the internet and social networking in changing human behaviour.

The following are a demonstration of how the doctor's own mind works, extrapolated from the novel.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Evolution of Language and Cognition in Twitter Age

Body language matters …

When talking to people, there are different expressions, facial features and gestures typical to types of individuals that tip the cognitive map of our brains into liking, disliking, trusting, mistrusting, developing a rapport, remaining aloof, becoming friendly, falling in love, getting aroused and all sorts of emotions.

In a strange chain reaction, various ancient memories mapped in our schema, of this life or ancestral, comes into the picture. You may like someone because she moves her lips as you speak, as if trying to repeat what you have just said … something mapped to your schema of the mind because your high school girlfriend used to do the same. You may not like a salesperson because his eyes move too quickly, arising memories long dead, of an ancient ancestor being confronted by a snake.

Tone of  the voice, shift of the eye, twitch of the facial muscles, position of the hands, these are different for people with different traits – which allow them to connect as senders, receivers and carriers of emotion.  If we see two people in conversation, a silent video film of their interaction will produce particular patterns that can be correlated with the dynamics built up by the two. The eyes contribute to 80% of the senses, so the visual factor influences the cognitive maps in ways no sense organ can even approach. Most of this connection often takes place within the first blink of the eye.

And in the modern day, people are being heralded at birth by Twitter, tracking progress on facebook and communicating in mediums of chat, sms, emails … A lot of the connection between people happen over the connection space of the social network, where, following body signals with eyes is eliminated from the equation, replaced by smileys. The dance that we witness in a video recording of interaction between individuals is replaced by distinct images of space and time separated reactions to scraps, wall posts, emails and texts. Even in real time chat, one does not see the movement of the eye, the twitch of the face.

But, as the worldview, and with it, the interaction space changes, human beings will evolve in their cognitive connections. New words, expressions and language quirks are bound to come into communication. I am not speaking of ROFL and GNSD and WYSIWYG. There are bound to crop up specific  patterns of word usage in the medium of the net that will distinguish senders from receivers, that will be instrumental in building  rapport among different individuals, that will emit the approximation of those signals produced by subtle movement of body parts, facial features … and within the secret cognitive map of the human being, will develop the skill of reading and deciphering these signals. Probably a lot of it has already developed. 

Language and cognition of language is undergoing an upheaval. We are some years from knowing the exact details.

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About Me

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A novelist and cricket historian, Arunabha Sengupta is the author of three novels and the Chief Cricket Writer on cricketcountry.com. In his novels he deals with the contemporary world with acerbic humour. In his cricket writings he covers the history and romance in the game, while his post graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces