According to the news reported by the foreign media on October 14, do you have time to think silently in your mind? Can it be an illusion caused by our memory of the sound of speaking? These problems point to an unsolved mystery, which is related to our pursuit of “impossible language”. < / P > < p > the so-called “impossible language” refers to the voice in our mind. From a methodological point of view, this puzzle is equally important, because to solve this puzzle, we need to fundamentally change the way we understand the relationship between language and brain. We need to change from “where the neurons are sending signals” to “which neurons are sending signals” when the brain is performing language tasks. < / P > < p > first think about a simple question: what is language made of? There is no doubt that language is composed of words (words) and combination rules, but according to physicists, language exists in two different physical spaces: outside the brain and inside the brain. Outside the brain, language is made up of mechanical sound waves formed by the dense distribution of air molecules (i.e. “sound”), while inside the brain, language is made up of electrical waves that neurons communicate with. In both cases, language is made up of these real things on the physical level. < / P > < p > there is an obvious connection between sound waves and the brain. It is because of sound that the content of one brain can be transmitted to another brain in the form of discourse. (of course, the two brains can exchange language information in other ways, such as eyes, gestures, Braille, etc.) Sound enters the body through the ear, then passes through the tympanic membrane, the ossicles and the snail shaped cochlea. This complex system can transform the mechanical vibration of sound signal into electrical pulse, and decode the complex sound wave into the basic frequency of sound wave. Then, different frequencies are projected to specific points in the primary auditory cortex, and sound waves are replaced by radio waves. < / P > < p > the pioneering work of Nobel laureate and electrophysiologist Lord Edgar Adrian has at least made us understand that physical signals do not disappear completely when they reach the brain. And scientists have recently discovered a more shocking phenomenon: in areas of the brain that are not related to hearing, such as the Broca’s area, which is responsible for speech generation, brain waves actually retain the shape of corresponding sound waves. < / P > < p > these findings are of great significance to our understanding of the relationship between sound waves and brain waves. However, almost all of these findings rely on a neurophysiological process related to language, which is called “sound emission Decoding”. But we know that language can exist without sound, such as when we read (you’re doing this right now), when we think, and so on. In technical terms, it’s all called “endophasic.”. < / P > < p > this fact is very simple, but the key question is: what happens to the electric waves in the brain when we form language expressions but don’t make sound? < / P > < p > in 2014, Italian linguist Andrea morrow and his colleagues decided to find out the answer to this question. They compared the shape of the waves that describe the activity in Broca’s area with the shape of the sound waves. The sound waves included not only the sound that the subjects heard, but also the sound that they read silently in an absolutely quiet environment. In the latter case, the input information has nothing to do with the sound. Of course, the analysis of “brain discourse” is not a new concept in the field of neuropsychology. But the technology used by morrow and others to explore this phenomenon is very unusual and enlightening, and the results are also surprising. < p > < p > in an experiment called “awake” was used to collect data. With this technique, the patient will be awakened after removing part of the skull, so as to stimulate and analyze the electrophysiological activity of the patient’s cerebral cortex. However, this technology is an invasive method, the brain is a very fragile organ, and patients need to cooperate in the extremely fragile situation. These psychological, technical and ethical reasons make it difficult to carry out such research. < / P > < p > for example, when surgeons cut the cerebral cortex and remove tumors, they can not know in advance whether the removal of brain tissue here will interfere with the neural network, so as to destroy or even destroy the corresponding cognitive, motor or sensory functions of the neural network. In order to minimize the injury caused by the operation, after the patient is anesthetized and the skull is opened, the doctor will wake up the patient (the time is very short, about 10 to 20 minutes) and ask the patient to do some simple tasks that need to use the corresponding cortex. < / P > < p > as the patient completes the task, the doctor will use small electrodes to stimulate the patient’s cerebral cortex (this does not cause pain, because the brain does not have pain receptors). If the electrical stimulation of a certain part of the cortex will affect the patient to complete the task, the doctor can judge that if this part of the cortex is removed, it will cause permanent damage to the patient, and use this to evaluate whether the operation can be performed from other positions. The benefits of this operation to patients can not be measured by value, and the actual effect can hardly be achieved by any technology. This is not only a unique opportunity for scientists to study the brain’s functions, but also a unique technology. < / P > < p > first of all, doctors can determine the location of the key nodes of the neural network related to a specific task in the brain of any patient, which solves one of the key problems of neuroimaging technology: the exact location of specific functions in the brain of different subjects may vary greatly. In addition, doctors can accurately record the electrical activity of a single neuron. However, using the existing technology, this level is difficult to achieve. < / P > < p > in addition to the treatment of local lesions, the use of this technology in other pathological fields is also increasing, such as the treatment of epilepsy which is difficult to deal with with with drugs and so on. In the treatment of epilepsy, doctors will first implant electrodes in the patient’s brain, and then close the skull, so that they can provide continuous patient information in the daily environment. With this method, we can further understand the neurophysiological process in the brain. Compared with neuroimaging technology, this method can provide more accurate and accurate spatial information, and can also carry out targeted measurement of brain electrical activity, which is unmatched by any other indirect measurement methods. < / P > < p > in morrow’s experiment, 16 patients were asked to read out a given language statement aloud, some of which were individual words, some of which were complete sentences. The researchers then compared the shape of the generated waves with the shape of the waves in Broca’s area of the brain. Surprisingly, they found a correlation. < / P > < p > the second step of the experiment is the most critical: the researchers asked the patients to read these language expressions again, but do not make any sound, just read them silently in the brain. Then, the researchers again compared the corresponding sound wave with the shape of the Broca’s area in the patient’s brain. What we have to point out here is that signals do enter the brain, but they are not sound signals, but light signals carried by electromagnetic waves, or simply speaking, signals conveyed by the words we use to express words. Anyway, they are definitely not sound waves. < / P > < p > results the researchers were surprised to find that when the subjects read these language expressions silently, the electric wave structure recorded in the brain areas unrelated to hearing was exactly the same as the mechanical sound wave generated when reading these sentences. In this way, the two waves of language attachment are closely linked. How close is this connection? Even in the absence of sound, the two waveforms can be completely overlapped. This shows that the acoustic information of language is not implanted when someone needs to communicate with others, but is a part of language from the beginning, or at least earlier than the generation time of sound. In addition, the results of this study have also successfully ruled out the suspicion that the sounds in our mind when we read or think are just illusions based on our memory of the sounds when we speak. This finding suggests that the role of sound in language processing is much more critical than previously thought. This unexpected connection between sound waves and brain waves generated by sound is just like the “Rosetta stone tablet” (Note: Rosetta stone tablet was made in 196b. C., on which the same contents were engraved with ancient Egyptian characters, Greek characters and popular characters at that time, enabling linguists to interpret the meaning and structure of Egyptian hieroglyphs by comparing different characters) In order to use the known two kinds of coding, interpret the third kind of coding: the radio wave coding generated in the silent situation. This in turn may help us to uncover the unique “fingerprints” of human language. < / P > < p > this discovery also raises many questions, such as: if someone has never heard any sound since birth, what kind of electrical activity does his / her language network (including Broca’s district) produce? Can we use the electrical activity information of cerebral cortex to understand the sentences in the heart of aphasia patients, and then hear them “speak” again with the help of artificial voice equipment? Can we have a better understanding of what we hear in our minds when we dream, or when the patient is unconscious? Can we treat severe stuttering as a disorder between different voice representation systems in neural networks, and intervene and treat it? Do these findings lead to unethical behavior, against the will of others, and forced acquisition of other people’s thoughts? < / P > < p > the simple fact that most of human communication is in the form of waves may not be accidental. After all, waves can carry information from one entity to another without changing the structure or composition of the two entities. Waves can pass through our bodies without harming us, but they also allow us to decipher the information they carry by their instantaneous vibration. Of course, the premise is that we should have a “key” that can “decode”. The word “information” in English is derived from the Latin root “forma”, which is not a coincidence. After all, if you want to convey “information”, you have to share “shape” with others. < / P > < p > Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once asked such a question in his Book Philosophical Investigations: “is it possible for people to communicate from the heart instead of the mouth?” With the results of morrow’s experiment, Wittgenstein will be viewed from a new perspective. More importantly, many new problems have emerged. It is said that “gt

By ibmwl