Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Reading Brain - It's No Hocus Pocus

The written word is like a magic charm as powerful as any wizardry that Harry Potter could summon. With a wave of his wand he draws children in totally. In truth, we know it's really the clacking keyboard that casts the spell. These children who disappear into the pages of a book, are really taken in by the power of reading. It is literacy that grants them access to mystical worlds in faraway lands.
Little do they know that it is this act of reading, that is the most impressive sorcery of all time. Humankind was not born to read! It took 2000 years to make this intellectual leap. Just as a prism unlocks the colors in a beam of light; the brain's synaptic pathways unlocks the sound/symbol relationship. How? The brain wired older structures to house vision and language together.

The evolution of the reading brain looks something like this: The
Token Reading Brain:
Our early ancestors used area 37 (object recognition) as the earliest form of reading. This enabled us to link an object with a concept, making connections to associated areas of the brain.

The Logosyllablary Reading Brain:

Chinese readers offer a view of the ancient Sumerians who created the first written language Cuneiform. This is a form of hieroglyphic writing that resembles bird tracks, or fingernail impression in clay tablets. Check out: if you want to learn more...

The English Reading Brain:

If you want to learn more about the evolution of reading, there is a must have book, Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf. Check her out:

Although it seems as if literacy were conjured up - as though some secret scroll was unfurled in the brain. In a way it was - but the scroll is really a network of nuero transmitters setting the brain alight with the author's craft. Reading allows us to see what cannot be seen, shape shift to a different self- a transient identity. The process that allows this is amazing. If you want to see the reading brain in action click on the video link next to this post.
Until next time readers...

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