When you make an error in speech, saying "personal breast" instead of "personal best," there's an instant feeling of "oh shit" in your brain. And when you make a mistake like tripping, you often can't stop yourself from saying "oh shit!" out loud — even if you're in front of your nice grandmother. Now a group of German researchers have discovered that this impulse, dubbed the "Oh-shit" wave, is actually a specific electrophysiological signal in your brain that can help you correct errors before they happen. According to representatives at the NWO research institute where the study was done:

The researchers showed that the brain responds to such faulty utterances with a specific electrophysiological signal. It was already known that this wave occurs when making behavioural errors, such as pressing a wrong button by accident. This wave, called Error-Related Negativity, is informally known as the 'Oh-shit' wave. The brain registers at once that something is amiss. The most important conclusion of the study is that the way in which the brain uses language is not fundamentally different from how other actions such as grabbing or walking are carried out. The 'Oh-shit' wave registers errors so rapidly that they can sometimes be corrected in time. In this way you can stop yourself from falling down the stairs or saying the wrong thing.

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So when you yell "Oh shit!" after you stub your toe, that's your brain trying to stop you from getting hurt — and getting there a little too late. Brain Recognizes Verbal "Oh Shit" Wave [via NWO] Image via About.com.