How the brain reads

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How the brain reads

Postby vivian maxine on June 10th, 2016, 6:16 am 

In the brain, one area sees familiar words as pictures, another sounds out words
June 9, 2016
Georgetown University Medical Center
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/06/160609093644.htm

In the brain, one area sees familiar words as pictures; another sounds out words. (Science Daily, 9 June 2016)
Last edited by zetreque on June 13th, 2016, 1:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: url improvement
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby sponge on June 11th, 2016, 10:41 am 

Thanks for the link VM. There was a lot of interesting info in the related studies on that site too.
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby vivian maxine on June 11th, 2016, 10:59 am 

sponge » June 11th, 2016, 9:41 am wrote:Thanks for the link VM. There was a lot of interesting info in the related studies on that site too.


You are welcome. I agree about the site but the emails are getting rather ponderous. Too many items to give good time to in one day, don't you think?

As for the discovery, I wonder how much of that relates to sight reading vs phonetic reading methods of teaching. What I mean is reading used to be taught the phonetic way. Then they switched to teaching sight reading. There has always been controversy as to which is better.

So, "chicken and egg" story. Did the people being tested always have one area stronger than the other? Or did teaching one method or the other cause the related area to develop more. Did the readers who see pictures learn to read by sight and did those who still sound out learn to read by phonics?

Now there is a research project for someone - a follow-up project.
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby BadgerJelly on June 11th, 2016, 12:52 pm 

Makes sense. I don't sound out words before I speak either, I just speak them. It is not like I am consciously editting my words when speaking.

In relation to speaking there last time I looked there was a similar thing going on. This was, if I remember correct, put down to listen not requiring motor function like speech.
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby vivian maxine on June 11th, 2016, 1:10 pm 

BadgerJelly » June 11th, 2016, 11:52 am wrote:Makes sense. I don't sound out words before I speak either, I just speak them. It is not like I am consciously editting my words when speaking.

In relation to speaking there last time I looked there was a similar thing going on. This was, if I remember correct, put down to listen not requiring motor function like speech.


So, now do we have a clue as to why some children cannot pick up on reading? Will we end up testing to see which part of the brain they need to use in order to learn to read?

An interesting concept - dividing our students according to which part of their brain says it hold the key to success?

Personally, I hope it just ends up that they use one of the other based on how they were taught. But then I think of all those ten- and eleven-year-olds who are still grappling with second grade readers.

By the way, badger, what about when you see a new word for the first time? Say a long, scientific word that is utterly new to you? And how did you learn reading in the first place? Phonics or sound?
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby bangstrom on June 12th, 2016, 2:08 pm 

vivian maxine » June 11th, 2016, 12:10 pm wrote:
An interesting concept - dividing our students according to which part of their brain says it hold the key to success?

There was an experiment with dyslectic children in Pennsylvania years ago. Some children who could not learn to read were taught to read and write in elementary Chinese which is a picture writing and they had no unexpected problems. The experiment was discontinued because the ability to learn Chinese did not transfer to phonetic reading and the ability to read Chinese is not of much use in Pennsylvania.

The Japanese read and write with a horrible combination of Chinese style characters, a Japanese syllabary, and the Roman alphabet. Kanji, katakana, and romanji. In Japan, a dyslectic reader can read Chinese but not the others. Japanese must be the most difficult language in the world to learn how to read but somehow the Japanese have the world's highest literacy rate.

People knew nothing about dyslexia when I was learning to read and young children were not expected to learn to read as early as they are now. In first grade, I was unable to read and deliberately gave up trying. There was nothing in our “Dick and Jane” books worth reading. My attitude changed some time in the second grade when I wanted to learn about the pictures in “Horton Hatches the Egg.”

I struggled to learn to read every word in “Horton” and went on to one other picture book and then one day I discovered I could read. Somehow I had suddenly jumped from sounding out words to sight reading.

My sister taught reading at a Montessori school and she says it is not unusual for students to tell the teacher, “I learned to read yesterday.” She never thought learning to read was a “one day” process but she noticed that when children say they suddenly know how to read they begin reading signs and simple books that they could never read before.

I have studied Chinese so I have learned to read twice. I don't have a musicians ear for tones so I was never able to understand spoken Chinese (too many words sound the same) but I was able to lean to read character writing and again it was a sudden process. After studying for about six months, Chinese characters still looked like chicken scratchings but one day I was passing by a martial arts studio with a sign in the window and suddenly I “saw” the pictures. Once you can see the pictures, Chinese writing is easy to learn but unfortunately it is easy to forget if you don't keep it up.

Children in China first learn to read by phonics with an alphabet the same as we do and later they transfer to character writing. Chinese, when written with an alphabet, is tedious to read because all those words that sound alike are spelled alike and every letter and accent mark is critical to the meaning. One misspelled word can change the whole meaning of a sentence.

The spoken word is an abstraction of the real world and the written word is an abstraction of an abstraction. Chinese picture writing is one abstraction closer to reality so Chinese characters somehow seem more “real” than words written with an alphabet. Also, if you see an unfamiliar Chinese character you can often get a general idea of its meaning from the pictures. It is an interesting way to read.
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby vivian maxine on June 12th, 2016, 3:17 pm 

That's interesting about the Japanese. I didn't know that. Many centuries ago, Japanese boys were sent to China for their education. It was much like we used to send children to Paris for an education. The wealthy did, that is. Finishing school, perhaps? Anyway, maybe that is what got the two languages jumbled together. Today, having learned Chinese might come in handy.

A professor once told us we should stop fretting about how much smarter are the foreign students who come here than are our own. After all, he said, they only send their brightest while we try educate all of ours. It does make sense.

Having a good memory can help a dyslexic student. I had a dyslexic student one year. I'd send him and his friend to the cloak room where the friend would read the text to him. The child had a fabulous memory and sailed right along with the rest of the class. I'd gotten the idea reading about a dyslexic student at university who actually hired someone to read all his texts to him. Imagine what an effort that takes.

Sight reading is faster but it has its problems also. A friend learned to read by that method. She could read a whole book in one night while it took me a couple of weeks. And she did remember what she read. But she never did understand phonics and her spelling was atrocious. She had to work hard at that - learning the basic rules ("i before e"). Then she, herself became a teacher about the time our school authorities decided a little phonics might help children learn to read. Ironic.

How people learn is fascinating.
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby BadgerJelly on June 13th, 2016, 12:55 am 

Viv -

Sorry, looks like I accidently deleted soek of my post before posting it!

I was trying to refer to how babies use different parts of their brains to recognise a colour when asked to point one out. Once they learn to speak a different part of their brain lights up when they point a colour out. This may be related purely to the motor function of speech. I saw this some years ago in a documentary so no idea how further along the invewtigation has moved.

I can only say a few bits. Neuro can give a better reply than me and hopefully correct any mistakes or assumptions I make.

As infants we do not learn new sounds. What happens is we filter out the parts we don't find use for. There is extensive evidence for this. As we grow older and try to distinguish the phonics of a foreign language we have to learn the subtle difference we could as infants easily distinguish.

Often expoaure to a new word means exposure to a new concept. We only come to know of its proper use through trial and error. More complex and abstract concepts gake time for us to understand them.

I have not done much reading on reading. It does seem that it is pretty much the same as when I see an object. If I see something I essentially "read" what it is. All writing does is use a symbol to relate to an experience.

Given that certain writing systems are different to others it makes sense that some would be easier to learn. I guess I would say the same about language too, but that looks loke it would be incorrect. The main difference between speaking and reading is the point in neural development when we take on these tasks.

To improve reading and writing it would make sense to expose infants to written synbols as much as language. This is not really a practical idea thtough.

Learning in infancy is more about not "forgetting". It is about keeping the neurons alive. As learning "machines" we are at optimal settings during our first couple of years of life (at least in regards to sensory exposure).
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Re: How the brain reads

Postby vivian maxine on June 13th, 2016, 8:02 am 

A great bit of information, badger. A lot of new ideas there. Thank you. Something I find interesting is the child in a bi-lingual household. Parents are speaking English; grandparents are speaking, say Hungarian. The child learns both and - fascinating - separates them according to whom he is speaking.
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