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:2/23/2017)... , ... February 23, 2017 , ... ... with a clinician-based audience, will be participating in Rare Disease Day events, hosted ... D.C. In addition, Rare Disease Report, a website, weekly e-newsletter and quarterly publication, ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... 23, 2017 , ... Rosica Communications, a national PR ... media management, corporate communications, SEO and cause marketing, is opening an office in ... Hampshire, Massachusetts and Canada, Rosica will focus on expanding its footprint. , ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... 2017 , ... Pink Pig Publishing LLC announces the launch ... the world from different perspectives. By providing a place for people of all ... empathy, and find greater happiness. , "Our approach to structuring content is ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... The Center for ... Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RI-CART) and Cinemaworld to present Sensory ... disorder (ASD) to see films in an environment that accommodates their unique needs. ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... ... February 23, 2017 , ... Curemark, LLC announced today that ... of CM-AT in children aged 3-8 with Autism, is now enrolling at three new ... children across the United States. , “There are currently no approved drugs that ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/23/2017)... Feb. 23, 2017 Research and Markets has ... Strategies - 2016" report to their offering. ... The latest research Fibromyalgia Drugs ... benchmarks in the global Fibromyalgia market. The research answers ... drugs marketed for Fibromyalgia and their clinical attributes? How are they ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... , Feb 23, 2017 Research and ... Analysis & Trends - Industry Forecast to 2025" report to ... ... of around 6.9% over the next decade to reach approximately $47.6 ... market estimates and forecasts for all the given segments on global ...
(Date:2/23/2017)... 2017  MiMedx Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MDXG), the leading ... processes to develop and market advanced products and therapies ... Ophthalmic, and Dental sectors of healthcare, today announced its ... ended December 31, 2016. Full Year 2016 ... 31% increase over full year 2015 revenue ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: