Reading is a Complex Skill

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Science  24 Mar 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5461, pp. 2117
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5461.2117a

The act of reading requires rapid processing of information and seamless communication between brain regions. People with dyslexia have difficulty with both of these functions; they cannot accurately decode rapidly changing visual or auditory stimuli, and the parts of their brains required for reading do not communicate well with each other.

Talcott et al. assess sensitivity for detecting dynamic visual and auditory stimuli in 32 unselected children and find that these sensitivities correlate with their orthographic and phonological skills. Using a new technique for detecting axons in the brain called diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging, Klingberg et al. show that there are decreases in the ordered axonal structure within the left temporo-parietal area (which form the connections to the frontal cortex) that correlate with reading ability in adults. Thus, the alterations in brain structures and functions seen in reading-impaired individuals may be representative of variation that contributes to the range of reading ability among normal individuals.—KK

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.U.S.A.97, 2952 (2000); Neuron25, 493 (2000).

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