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Study: Centers throughout the brain work together to make reading possible
Date:8/5/2013

A combination of brain scans and reading tests has revealed that several regions in the brain are responsible for allowing humans to read.

The findings open up the possibility that individuals who have difficulty reading may only need additional training for specific parts of the brain targeted therapies that could more directly address their individual weaknesses.

"Reading is a complex task. No single part of the brain can do all the work," said Qinghua He, postdoctoral research associate at the USC Brain and Creativity Institute and the first author of a study on this research that was published in the Journal of Neuroscience on July 31.

The study looked at the correlation between reading ability and brain structure revealed by high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of more than 200 participants.

To control for external factors, all of the participants were about the same age and education level (college students); right-handed (lefties use the opposite hemisphere of their brain for reading); and all had about the same language skills (Chinese-speaking, with English as a second language for more than nine years). Their IQ, response speed, and memory were also tested.

The study first collected data for seven different reading tests of a sample over 400 participants. These tests were aimed to explore three aspects of their reading ability:

  • phonological decoding ability (the ability to sound out printed words);
  • form-sound association (how well participants could make connections between a new word and sound);
  • and naming speed (how quickly participants were able to read out loud).

Each of these aspects, it turned out, was related to the gray matter volume the amount of neurons in different parts of the brain.

The MRI analysis showed that phonological decoding ability was strongly connected with gray matter volume in the left superior parietal lobe
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Contact: Robert Perkins
perkinsr@usc.edu
213-740-9226
University of Southern California
Source:Eurekalert

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