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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development

Brain wave study shows how different teaching methods affect reading development.

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A study, co-authored by Professor Bruce McCandliss, provides some of the first evidence that a specific teaching strategy for reading has direct neural impact.

 

From the 28 May 2015 Stanford news release

Stanford Professor Bruce McCandliss found that beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading.

Words learned through the letter-sound instruction elicited neural activity biased toward the left side of the brain, which encompasses visual and language regions. In contrast, words learned via whole-word association showed activity biased toward right hemisphere processing.

McCandliss noted that this strong left hemisphere engagement during early word recognition is a hallmark of skilled readers, and is characteristically lacking in children and adults who are struggling with reading.

In addition, the study’s participants were subsequently able to read new words they had never seen before, as long as they followed the same letter-sound patterns they were taught to focus on. Within a split second, the process of deciphering a new word triggered the left hemisphere processes.

“Ideally, that is the brain circuitry we are hoping to activate in beginner readers,” McCandliss said.

By comparison, when the same participants memorized whole-word associations, the study found that they learned sufficiently to recognize those particular words on the reading test, but the underlying brain circuitry differed, eliciting electrophysiological responses that were biased toward right hemisphere processes.

 

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Older People Struggle to Read Fine Print: It’s Not What You Think

English: A typical Snellen chart. Originally d...

English: A typical Snellen chart. Originally developed by Dutch ophthalmologist Herman Snellen in 1862, to estimate visual acuity. When printed out at this size, the E on line one will be 88.7 mm (3.5 inches) tall and when viewed at a distance of 20 ft (= 609.6 centimeters, or 6.09600 meters), you can estimate your eyesight based on the smallest line you can read. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 22 November 2012 article at ScienceNewsDaily

 

..”As we get older, we lose visual sensitivity, particularly to fine visual detail, due to changes in the eye and changes in neural transmission. This loss of visual sensitivity is found even in individuals with apparently normal vision and is not corrected by optical aids, such as glasses or contact lenses. However, it is likely to have consequences for reading.

“The ability to read effectively is fundamental to participation in modern society, and the challenge age-related visual impairment presents to meeting everyday demands of living, working and citizenship is a matter of concern. The difficulty older adults have in reading is an important contributing factor to social exclusion. The RNIB has identified age-related reading difficulty amongst the over 65s as highly detrimental to quality of life and a barrier to employment….

 

 

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , , | Leave a comment

New Study Shows That Reading Expands Our Self-Concepts

From the 24 April 2011 Medical News Today article

“We read to know we are not alone,” wrote C.S. Lewis. But how do books make us feel we are not alone?

“Obviously, you can’t hold a book’s hand, and a book isn’t going to dry your tears when you’re sad,” says University at Buffalo, SUNY psychologist Shira Gabriel. Yet we feel human connection, without real relationships, through reading. “Something else important must be happening.”

In an upcoming study inPsychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Gabriel and graduate student Ariana Young show what that something is: When we read, we psychologically become part of the community described in the narrative – be they wizards or vampires. That mechanism satisfies the deeply human, evolutionarily crucial, need for belonging. …

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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