Read : the benefits accrue to several areas of the brain
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics
Published the 07.07.2017 at 18h06
In France, the scourge of illiteracy is almost an old memory. Only 1 % of the population can neither read nor write. But these people do not despair. Even in adulthood, the brain derives the benefits of this teaching. This is what shows a study carried out in India and published in Science Advances.
Four Indians out of ten are illiterate. The Sub-continent was therefore the ideal place to assess the impact of a reading on the brain. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics (Germany) have therefore recruited 20 people in their thirties, with the assistance of the university of Hyderabad (India).
Three activated regions
These volunteers, for six months, learned to read the Devanagari. This write is used to write Hindi, the majority language in India. It is rather complex, since, instead of symbolizing letters, expressing syllables or even whole words. And yet, in a semester, the participants have reached the level of reading a student of PT.
Throughout this apprenticeship, the adults have undergone profound changes in brainwave activity. Scientists were surprised by what they observed. “Up here, it was assumed that the changes were limited to the outer layer of the brain, the cortex, where we know that it adapts quickly to new challenges,” says Falk Huettig, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics.
The benefits of reading extend to a network much wider. The prefrontal cortex, involved in the management of language, memory and reasoning, becomes more active. But the thalamus and the brainstem that play a role in hearing, motor skills or vision – are also developing.
An explanation of dyslexia
The activities of these areas of the brain to synchronize better to those that occur in the visual cortex. And it’s not a mere coincidence. “These deeper structures, the thalamus and the brainstem, help our visual cortex to filter out the important information among the visual flow that occurs before we even perceive consciously “, explains Michael Skeide, also the author of the study.
The reading is therefore a major step in the development of our brain. But beyond this ” youthful look “, these results could prove very useful in the understanding of learning disabilities reading and writing, such as dyslexia.
4 to 5% of French school children suffer from dyslexia. Their difficulties may be related to a structural defect of the thalamus or to a bad synchronization of the different regions are called upon. But to confirm this hypothesis may be difficult. It should be noted these abnormalities prior to even the schooling of children.