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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The Reading Brain (BSP 24)


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.

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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)