Navigation Links
Brain waves show learning to read does not end in 4th grade, contrary to popular theory
Date:7/20/2014

Teachers-in-training have long been taught that fourth grade is when students stop learning to read and start reading to learn. But a new Dartmouth study in the journal Developmental Science tested the theory by analyzing brain waves and found that fourth-graders do not experience a change in automatic word processing, a crucial component of the reading shift theory. Instead, some types of word processing become automatic before fourth grade, while others don't switch until after fifth.

The findings mean that teachers at all levels of elementary school must think of themselves as reading instructors, said the study's author, Associate Professor of Education Donna Coch.

"Until now, we lacked neurological evidence about the supposed fourth-grade shift," said Coch, also principal investigator for Dartmouth's Reading Brains Lab. "The theory developed from behavioral evidence, and as a result of it, some teachers in fifth and sixth grade have not thought of themselves as reading instructors. Now we can see from brain waves that students in those grades are still learning to process words automatically; their neurological reading system is not yet adult-like."

Automatic word processing is the brain's ability to determine whether a group of symbols constitutes a word within milliseconds, without the brain's owner realizing the process is taking place.

To test how automatic word processing develops, Coch placed electrode caps on the heads of third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders, as well as college students. She had her test subjects view a screen that displayed a mix of real English words (such as "bed"), pseudo-words (such as "bem"), strings of letters (such as "mbe"), and strings of meaningless symbols one at a time. The setup allowed her to see how the subjects' brains reacted to each kind of stimulus within milliseconds. In other words, she could watch their automatic word processing.

Next, Coch gave the participants a written test, in which they were asked to circle the real words in a list that also contained pseudo-words, strings of letters, and strings of meaningless symbols. This task was designed to test the participants' conscious word processing, a much slower procedure.

Interestingly, most of the 96 participants got a nearly perfect score on the written test, showing that their conscious brains knew the difference between words and non-words.

However, the electrode cap revealed that only the college students processed meaningless symbols differently than real words. The third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders' brains reacted to the meaningless symbols the same way they reacted to common English words.

"This tells us that, at least through the fifth grade, even children who read well are letting stimuli into the neural word processing system that more mature readers do not," Coch said. "Their brains are processing strings of meaningless symbols as if they were words, perhaps in case they turn out to be real letters. In contrast, by college, students have learned not to process strings of meaningless symbols as words, saving their brains precious time and energy."

The phenomenon is evidence that young readers do not fully develop automatic word processing skills until after fifth grade, which contradicts the fourth-grade reading shift theory.

The brain waves also showed that the third-, fourth-, and fifth-graders processed real words, psuedowords, and letter strings similarly to college students, suggesting that some automatic word processing begins before the fourth grade, and even before the third grade, also contradicting the reading shift theory.

"There is value to the theory of the fourth grade shift in that it highlights how reading skills and abilities develop at different times," Coch said. "But the neural data suggest that teachers should not expect their fourth-graders, or even their fifth-graders, to be completely automatic, adult-like readers."


'/>"/>
Contact: Shea Drefs
shea.m.drefs@dartmouth.edu
603-646-2255
Dartmouth College
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study Suggests Vaccine May Help Kids With Brain Cancer
2. Epilepsy Leads to More Brain Abnormalities Over Time
3. UCLA Brain Injury Research Center gets NCAA funding for research on sports concussions
4. Why is traumatic brain injury increasing among the elderly?
5. Brain Falters Near End of Life, but Games, Puzzles Might Slow Decline
6. Dental X-Rays May Be Linked to Benign Brain Tumors
7. Nonsurgical Method to Measure Brain Pressure Shows Promise
8. Researchers Map Brain Regions Linked to Intelligence
9. Football-related catastrophic brain injuries on the rise
10. Brain Tumor Vaccine Shows Promise in Early Trial
11. Brain Surgery Might Ease Tough-to-Treat OCD
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/12/2017)... Wis. (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... ... standard products to meet the demand of today’s consumer and regulatory authorities worldwide. ... of probiotic experts and tested to meet the highest standard. , These ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... MD (PRWEB) , ... October 12, 2017 , ... The ... of Excellence to Carol Friedman, PhD, FACMI, during the Opening Session of AMIA’s Annual ... – 8. , In honor of Morris F. Collen, a pioneer in the field ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... Information about the ... to develop to enable prevention of a major side effect of chemotherapy in ... in pediatric patients. For cisplatin, hearing loss is FDA listed on-label as a ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... October 12, 2017 , ... HMP , a leader in healthcare events ... Magazine Eddie Digital Award for ‘Best B-to-B Healthcare Website.’ Winners were announced during the ... The annual award competition recognizes editorial and design excellence across a range of sectors. ...
(Date:10/12/2017)... ... 12, 2017 , ... On Saturday, October 21, the Health & Wellness Center ... to raise money for the American Heart Association Heart Walk. Teams of up to ... together to keep their treadmills moving for 5 hours. Treadmills will start at 7:00 ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:10/4/2017)... Mass. , Oct. 4, 2017  According to the Centers for ... the end of October . PhysicianOne Urgent Care is helping communities across ... Westchester, NY , by offering no-cost* flu shots through the ... as mandated by certain health insurance regulations. ... The best time to get a flu shot is by the ...
(Date:10/2/2017)... , Oct. 2, 2017 Halo Labs announces the ... analysis system called the HORIZON at MIBio 2017 in ... subvisible and visible particulate matter in biopharmaceutical samples with unprecedented speed ... of the novel technique Backgrounded Membrane Imaging. ... The HORIZON subvisible particle analysis system ...
(Date:9/27/2017)... and NEW YORK , Sept. 27, 2017 /PRNewswire/ ... health and big data solutions, today announced that its MyDario product is ... your local TV listings for when The Dr. Oz Show airs in ... The nine-time ... month. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: