Learning to read is caring the brain, new study

Our ability to read and write is new cultural skills compare to other abilities like hearing and seeing. Human’s ability to read and write is too recent in the process of evolution that even the possibility of dedicated cortical neural networks is minimal. The process of reading requires the coordinated functions of several brain regions. The visual sensory region is an important one.

Effects of reading on the visual sensory region in the brain are recently studied by an international team of researchers led by Alexis Hervais-Adelman of Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics. The study was published in Science Advances. Researchers from Indian institutions like Centre of Biomedical Research, University of Hyderabad, Centre for Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, University of Allahabad, Department of Psychology, Iswar Saran Degree College also involved in this study.

For this study, about 91 healthy voluntary individuals were recruited from two villages of an Indian state, Uttar Pradesh. The individuals were selected without the known history of any psychiatric disorders. The group includes subjects with a wide range of literacy, person who are good readers and those who don’t know to read. Six-month training on reading Devanagari script was given to the illiterate individuals in the group.

Researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study changes associated with the active regions of reading in brain. fMRI detects active regions with respect to the flow of blood. They found that the region near the ventral brain called visual word form area (VWFA) becomes active after an individual learns to read. 

Increased response to reading sentences after training

fMRI study further reveals that the learning to read not only activate VWFA but also altered the response level of several other brain regions involved in reading. The study also proves that there is no negative effect on the other regions of the brain due to learning to read as suggested by previous studies.

Learn to read and improve brains visual responses. 

Science Advances  18 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaax0262
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax0262

Written by M R Raghul

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