The Reading Brain with Maryanne Wolf (BS 145)

In her recent book Tales of Literacy for the 21st Century, Dr. Maryanne Wolf revisits some of the key ideas of her wonderful first book Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. Since Dr. Wolf was one of my earliest guests back in BSP 29, I was eager to talk with her again. In BS 145 we touch on several key ideas. First, she emphasized again that reading is very different from language. All normal humans learn their first language, almost automatically as long as they are exposed to language during the critical period early in life, but reading is actually a cultural invention and must be taught. We explore the  implications of this distinction.

Another important issue is that since our brain is plastic, how we learn to read makes a huge difference. Dr. Wolf is very concerned about the implications of the shift to digital media, not just for young readers, but for readers of all ages. But in Tales of Literacy she also explores how digital technology might be used to bring reading to children who might otherwise remain illiterate .

This is a thought-provoking discussion that listeners (and readers) of all backgrounds will enjoy.

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Links and References


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  • The next Brain Science Live on Facebook is scheduled for July 5, 2018 at 8PM. We will be discussing BS 142, which was about Peri-personal Neurons. Questions can be submitted in advance to or during the live event. Premium and Patreon supporters will have access to the audio recording of this event.

  • Future Brain Science Live on Facebook events are planned for the first Thursday of each month. Topics: August- BS 143 (Creativity), September- BS 144 (Language in the Brain) and October- BS 145 (Reading). Feel free to submit questions and comments via email at any time.

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