Friday, May 02, 2008

How the Brain Learns to Read

neuroscientists have begun to wonder whether the actual character of the text itself may shape the brain.

Studies of schoolchildren who read in varying alphabets and characters suggest that those who are dyslexic in one language, say Chinese or English, may not be in another, such as Italian.


The schooling required to read English or Chinese may fine-tune neural circuits in distinctive ways.

To learn the ABCs of English, we essentially harness our listening skills to a phonetic code. To become literate in Chinese, however, we must make much heavier use of memory, motor control and visual-perception circuits located toward the front of the brain. Children can master the 6,000 or so Chinese characters used in Mandarin and Cantonese text only by laboriously copying them out over and over again, until each abstract form becomes second nature. WSJ sub.


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