Touch-typists catch errors on 'autopilot'

John von Radowitz
Friday 29 October 2010 00:00
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Touch-typists catch errors without even noticing them using an unconscious "autopilot", research shows.

Scientists carried out tests to separate what typists saw on the screen and felt with their fingers. In the first, they secretly used a computer program to insert random false "typo" errors, or to correct mistakes that typists actually made. They found the typists generally blamed themselves for the errors the program had inserted, and took credit for the corrected errors – but their fingers told a different story.

Usually, a typist's fingers slow down when a wrong key is hit. This occurred as normal in the test and was unaffected by computer tampering. Their fingers slowed after an actual error, but did not when a false typo appeared on screen.

Professor Gordon Logan, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, said: "The hands know when the hands make an error, even when the mind does not."

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