How the brain helps us read
Washington: A new research has suggested that reading consists of unique capacities and is supported by distinct neural systems that are relatively independent of general cognitive abilities.
The findings open up the possibility that individuals who have difficulty reading may only need additional training for specific parts of the brain - targeted therapies that could more directly address their individual weaknesses.
The study conducted by the USC Brain and Creativity Institute looked at the correlation between reading ability and brain structure revealed by high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of more than 200 participants.
To control for external factors, all of the participants were about the same age and education level (college students); right-handed; and all had about the same language skills. Their IQ, response speed, and memory were also tested.
The study first collected data for seven different reading tests of a sample over 400 participants. These tests were aimed to explore three aspects of their reading ability which included phonological decoding ability; form-sound association; and naming speed.
Each of these aspects, it turned out, was related to the gray matter volume -the amount of neurons - in different parts of the brain.
The MRI analysis showed that phonological decoding ability was strongly connected with gray matter volume in the left superior parietal lobe (around the top/rear of the brain); form- sound association was strongly connected with the hippocampus and cerebellum; and naming speed lit up a variety of locations around the brain.
The study is published in the Journal of Neuroscience.