Search Box

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Human Brain Region Dedicated To Reading

Study Finds Brain Connections Key to Reading

Pathways that exist before kids learn to read may determine development of brain’s word recognition area.

Anne Trafton | August 8, 2016

A new study from MIT reveals that a brain region dedicated to reading has connections for that skill even before children learn to read.
By scanning the brains of children before and after they learned to read, the researchers found that they could predict the precise location where each child’s visual word form area (VWFA) would develop, based on the connections of that region to other parts of the brain.
Neuroscientists have long wondered why the brain has a region exclusively dedicated to reading — a skill that is unique to humans and only developed about 5,400 years ago, which is not enough time for evolution to have reshaped the brain for that specific task. The new study suggests that the VWFA, located in an area that receives visual input, has pre-existing connections to brain regions associated with language processing, making it ideally suited to become devoted to reading.

(Activation of the Visual Word form Area in one subject.) "The Language and categorization laboratory focuses on understanding brain mechanisms alllowing humans to efficiently recognize visual and auditory 'objects', in partucular linguistic objects. For instance how do we recognize any kind of chairs as a chair? If the shape of a particular chair is unusual we can still say this is a chair. Is this mechanism the same for words? there are many different fonts or handwritting styles, still people know these are words and not random shapes. What about sounds? are mechanisms similar to recognize objects? is there special mechanisms for sounds used in language?" Source:

"Taking the hypothesis from the basic sensory functions of cute furry critters to the higher mental tasks of humans, the MIT researchers picked on reading and the development of the VWFA. Reading among humans is a unique mental feat, having only developed some 5,400 years ago. That’s not long enough for our brains to have evolved a special region dedicated to reading. Yet, the VWFA, which sits at the base of the brain in the fusiform gyrus (see diagram), distinctly and specifically responds to visually presented words or letter strings and not other visual stimuli, such as numbers or faces." Source:

<more at; related articles and links: (Brain wiring needed for reading isn’t learned—it’s in place prior to reading. Researchers could predict how kids’ brains would develop before they learned to read. August 11, 2016) and (Connectivity precedes function in the development of the visual word form area. Zeynep M Saygin, David E Osher, Elizabeth S Norton, Deanna A Youssoufian, Sara D Beach, Jenelle Feather, Nadine Gaab, John D E Gabrieli and Nancy Kanwisher. Nature Neuroscience (2016) doi:10.1038/nn.4354. [Abstract: What determines the cortical location at which a given functionally specific region will arise in development? We tested the hypothesis that functionally specific regions develop in their characteristic locations because of pre-existing differences in the extrinsic connectivity of that region to the rest of the brain. We exploited the visual word form area (VWFA) as a test case, scanning children with diffusion and functional imaging at age 5, before they learned to read, and at age 8, after they learned to read. We found the VWFA developed functionally in this interval and that its location in a particular child at age 8 could be predicted from that child's connectivity fingerprints (but not functional responses) at age 5. These results suggest that early connectivity instructs the functional development of the VWFA, possibly reflecting a general mechanism of cortical development.])>

No comments:

Post a Comment