Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reading is hearing?

A fascinating summary from the Am. Psychological Association of some recent reading research in terms of the brain...
Reading research has made significant progress over the past 30 years, accelerating in the last few years as researchers who do intervention collaborate with brain-imaging researchers. Many studies over the last three decades have confirmed that reading has more to do with mentally “hearing” letter sounds and words than with seeing them, thus making it clear that children with reading problems are not lazy or unintelligent. Instead, they have specific brain-based differences in how they process information.

By using brain images to study reading, psychologists and their colleagues in medicine and education have found a biological explanation for the 2004 finding that research-based teaching can significantly improve how students with dyslexia read and spell. And in another 2004 study, they found evidence that effective instruction normalizes brain function.

The 2005 study showed that children who might otherwise have trouble learning to read can be identified and taught before their reading problems are apparent. When taught, their brains will change in as little as a year. This news is encouraging: Most kids who are at risk for reading problems can still learn to read.

More is available here. My own curiosity lies not in how the brains of readers experiencing difficulties reading are different from "normal" readers, but rather how the experience of sustained reading itself, a novel every month, might change the brain's ability to process information. Does it?

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