July 19th, 2010

Fishy Circumstances

Reading and mirror recognition

Fascinating article in last week's Economist.

The 7th Forum of European Neuroscience, held in Amsterdam this week, heard that learning to read requires the brain’s visual system to undergo profound changes, including unlearning the ancient ability to recognise an object and its mirror image as identical.

Mirror writing individual letters (p & q, b and d) is something that all children do, not just dyslexic ones, observes the article. (I had somehow thought this was obvious, but far be it for me to know what the previous or current state of child-advice is.)

Dr Dehaene believes that reading probably results in an enhancement of visual perception, but that these preliminary findings indicate there might also be a mild form of competition at work, whereby readers pay for their literacy with a slight reduction in their ability to perceive faces.

Do you have problems recognizing faces? It may be because you're highly literate.

Intriguing stuff.