The Reading Brain with Maryanne Wolf (BS 145)

The Reading Brain with Maryanne Wolf (BS 145)

BS 145 is an interview with Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain and Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century: The Literary Agenda. Dr Wolf has spent her career studying how the brain is changed by learning to read. We also explore her concerns about how the shift to digital media will change our reading brains.

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Why Reading Science Matters (BS 136)

Why Reading Science Matters (BS 136)

Brain Science 136 is a discussion of Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It by Mark Seidenberg. We explore some recent discoveries from reading science and ponder why there is such a large gap between these scientific discoveries and current educational practices in the US. 

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"Neuroplasticity and Healing" (BSP 113)

 Click to play BSP 113

Click to play BSP 113

The Dalai Lama's first visit to Alabama included several large public gatherings but I was invited to attend "Neuroplasticity and Healing," which was the scientific symposium he hosted at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). The featured neuroscientists were Dr. Edward Taub and Dr. Michael Merzenich. The moderator was Dr. Norman Doidge.

The Dalai Lama has a long-standing interest in science and he told the rapt audience that his four areas of interest are cosmology, physics, neurobiology, and psychology.

He is very interested in neuroplasticity and his visit to Alabama was actually prompted by a desire to see the work of Dr. Edward Taub who has pioneered a revolutionary approach to stroke rehabilitation. During this event Dr. Taub and Dr. Merzenich both shared how their work in brain plasticity is being used to help people with a variety of neurological challenges, but Dr. Merzenich also emphasized that these same principles can be applied by everyone. He explained that brain plasticity "is a two way process," which means that the choices we make are important. The Dalai Lama noted that Eastern practices like Meditation "work from the inside out," which is why he feels that Buddhist psychology and modern neuroscience can inform each other.

Episode 113 of the Brain Science Podcast includes audio excerpts from "Neuroplasticity and Healing" as well as my summary of the key ideas. Extras for the Mobile app include a free download of BSP 26 with Dr. Norman Doidge.

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How to get this episode:

  • FREE: audio mp3 (click to stream, right click to download)
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  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Links and References:

Related Episodes of the Brain Science Podcast:

  • BSP 10: Introduction to Brain Plasticity (Discussion of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain)
  • BSP 26: Norman Doidge, MD, author of The Brain That Changes Itself
  • BSP 28: Edward Taub, PhD: applies brain plasticity to Stroke Rehab  
  • BSP 54: Michael Merzenich, pioneer of Neuroplasticity
  • BSP 105: Michael Merzenich talks about Soft-Wired: How the New Science of Brain Plasticity Can Change Your Life

Announcements:

  • Next month's episode will be our 8th Annual Review Episode.

  • The most recent 25 episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE. Older episodes and episode transcripts are available for $1 each. Premium subscribers have unlimited access to all 100+ episodes and transcripts.

  • Reminder: The Brain Science Podcast mobile app is now FREE for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile.  Check newer episodes for extra free content!

  • Don't forget to check out my other podcast Books and Ideas.

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Reading and the Brain with Dr. Maryanne Wolf (BSP 29)

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Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Director ofThe Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University

Episode 29 of the Brain Science Podcast is an interview with cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.  I discussed her book in Episode 24, so this interview was an opportunity to ask her some follow-up questions, and to focus more on how children learn to read.  Dr. Wolf shares her ten years of experience helping children learn to read and developing programs to help children with problems like dyslexia.  She shares some practical advice for parents as well as her concerns about how reliance on the internet could influence reading skills.

I enjoyed the conversation and, while I especially want to share this episode with parents, I think Dr. Wolf gives everyone some interesting ideas to consider. 

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Links:

Maryanne Wolf

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The Reading Brain (BSP 24)

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Episode 24 of the Brain Science Podcast is a discussion of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, by Maryanne Wolf.

How to get this episode:

  • Premium Subscribers now have unlimited access to all old episodes and transcripts.
  • Buy mp3 for $1.
  • Buy Transcript for $1.
  • New episodes of the Brain Science Podcast are always FREE.  All episodes posted after January 1, 2013, are free.  See the individual show notes for links the audio files.

Show Notes:

Dr. Wolf's book, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain, is divided into three main topics: the history of how writing and reading developed over the last few thousand years, the developmental stages involved in learning how to read, and what happens when the brain can't learn to read.  My podcast concentrates on the main ideas from the first two topics.

History of Writing:

  • The discovery of symbols.
  • Early writing systems- cuneiform and hieroglyphics.
  • Why Chinese gives us a window into the past.
  • Importance of the alphabet.
  • Why Socrates opposed literacy.

The stages of becoming a reader:

  • The early pre-reader-with emphasis on language development.
  • The novice reader-connecting letters to the sounds of language.
  • The decoding reader.
  • The fluent comprehending reader-learning to "read between the lines."
  • The expert reader-why reading continues to change us throughout our lives.
  • What goes wrong when the brain can't learn to read: how new findings are leading to new solutions.

Links and References

  • Maryann Wolf, Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University.
    • FastForward -a successful approach to treating dyslexia.
    • Michael Posner - a psychologist who used PET scans to study what happens during shifts of attention (a necessary first step in reading).

    Follow-up interview with Dr. Wolf (BSP 29)