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Brain Component that Process Spellings and Reads:

  • Uncategorized
  • Aug 04, 2021

It has only been a couple of thousand years that humans began to develop reading and writing skills. . Our reading skills set us apart from other animal species but for our brains need more time to develop new areas specifically for this subject read. To explain the development of this ability, some scientists recently hypothesized that some parts of the brain were originally designed for other purposes but were "recycled" for reading.

For instance, they suggested that a part of the visual system that specializes in object recognition has been reused for a key section of reading called spelling processing. It is the ability to recognize letters and written words. A study by MIT neuroscientists provides evidence for the above mentioned fact, that even in non-human primates who cannot read, a part of the brain called the infero temporal cortex is capable of such tasks as distinguishing words from nonsensical words or making choices to execute certain letters in a word. This work has opened a potential link between our rapidly evolving understanding of neural mechanisms of visual processing and an important behavior in primates of reading.  

The researchers of the study are James DiCarlo, head of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a researcher at McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, and the study's senior author; Rishi Rajalingham, an MIT postdoctoral fellow, is the study's senior author, which appeared in Nature Communications, and associate technician Sachi Sanghavi Zum. Research team also includes Stanislas Dehaene, professor of experimental cognitive psychology at the Collège de France.

Reading is a complex process that requires recognizing words, assigning meaning to them, and associating them with their corresponding sound. It is believed that these functions span different parts of the human brain. A region known as the visual word shape area (VWFA) lights up when the brain is processing a written word. This region is involved in recognizing spelling as it distinguishes words from disordered letter sequences or words from unknown alphabets. The TI cortex as a part of the visual cortex is also responsible for identifying objects.

DiCarlo and Dehaene became interested in studying the neural mechanisms behind word recognition after cognitive psychologists in France reported in a study published in Science in 2012 that baboons could learn to distinguish words from non-words. However, it was a challenge to characterize these representations in the resolution of individual minds.