Reading boosts brain pathways, affects multiple disciplines


“The reason [that it’s] so important for our educators to know [this] is that educators change brains. They don’t just teach content, they don’t just improve the brain that I already have by giving me information that I hold on to. They actually change the way that the human brain processes information,” said Burns.

Such a massive change occurs as a result of how the brain is structured. The left hemisphere of the brain enables humans to perceive the internal details of words, such as the “b” sound in book, so they can then make the conversion between the sound and letter. The front lobe contains a segment that enables the sequencing of sounds, so you can remember how words are pronounced (i.e., “animal,” and not “aminal”). These two areas are connected by a huge superhighway of fiber.

“The brain builds based on what it does. So children who have lots of language exposure build this pathway very precisely, and then when they get into school reading is easy,” Burns said. However,  children who lack language exposure during their early development have a less defined pathway and language structure in their brains.

“If that superhighway system is weak, that doesn’t mean the child doesn’t have potential, that doesn’t mean the child isn’t smart. It just means that it hasn’t been exercised as much,” said Burns.

When this connection is weak, it makes it difficult for children to link letters and sounds, in turn making it hard to sequence words. This causes complications when learning grammar, which entirely revolves around sequencing. When this problem isn’t addressed, students fail to learn to read at all.

But a lack of literacy doesn’t just affect literature-based subjects.

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