From Technology Review, a summary of an interesting study on how the brain works to identify words:

In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in late June, 42 undergraduates followed instructions to click a mouse on one of two pictures on a computer monitor. Sometimes the images were different-sounding objects, such as “candle? and “jacket.? At other times, they were similar, such as “candle? and “candy.?

Researchers found that when the objects’ names were quite different, the mouse movements of the students followed a straight-line trajectory to the correct picture. When the words were similar, however, the trajectories were slower and arced. In the latter cases, Spivey hypothesized, subjects would begin processing a word at the first sound, then continued in an ambiguous state as they moved the mouse.

Musings from a Mouse