Professor Roberts and Professor Davis together with Dr Guillaune Thierry, from the University of Wales, Bangor, monitored 20 participants using an electroencephalogram (EEG) as they read selected lines from Shakespeare's plays.
In this initial test electrodes were placed on the subject's scalp to measure brain responses.
Professor Roberts said: "EEG gives graph-like measurements and when the brain reads a sentence that does not make semantic sense it registers what we call a N400 effect ?a negative wave modulation. When the brain reads a grammatically incorrect sentence it registers a P600 effect ?an effect which continues to last after the word that triggered it was first read."
Researchers also found that when participants read the word producing the functional shift there was no N400 effect indicating that the meaning was accepted but a P600 effect was observed which indicates a positive re-evaluation of the word. The team is now using magnetoencephalography (MEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMI) to test which areas of the brain are most affected and the kind of impact it could have in maintaining healthy brain activity.
Professor Davis added: "This interdisciplinary work is good for brain science because it offers permanent scripts of the human mind working moment-to-moment. It is good for literature as it illustrates primary human thinking. Through the two disciplines, we may discover new insights into the very motions of the mind."