LivingReading modifies your brain

Reading modifies your brain

leer-cerebroLearn to read, a phenomenon too recent to have influenced genetic evolution, has a significant impact on the brain, which adapts and uses, regardless of the age of literacy,brain regions destined for other functions.

There is no innate brain system specialized in reading, we have to do DIY, use systems that already exist “, explains Laurent Cohen, researcher at the National Institute of Health and Medical Research of France (INSERM) and one of those responsible for the study, published by the journalScience. Using MRI, the researchers measured the brain activity of 63 adult volunteers with different literacy rates: 10 illiterate, 22 literate people in adulthood, and 31 people enrolled in school since childhood. The research was carried out in Portugal and Brazil, countries in which, until a few decades ago, it was relatively common for children not to go to school.

The results showed that, on the one hand,learning to read activates the visual systemin the regions specialized in the written form of the letters, as is logical, but also in the primary visual regions, those where all the visual information reaches. In addition, in people who learn to read, the brain also uses theareas specialized in spoken language, since reading “activates the speech system” to become aware of sounds and allows “to establish relationships between the visual system and the speech system, between written letters and sounds”, Cohen emphasizes.

On the other hand, learning to read, even in adulthood, causes the brain to redistribute part of its resources. In this way, thevisual recognition of objects and facesyields some ground as we learn to read andpartially shifts to the right hemisphere

The researchers also found that in adults who learn to read, “the changes this causes are almost the same” as in subjects who became literate as children, although those did not perform as well due to lack of training, Cohen concluded.


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