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Tufts University
Child Development
Maryanne Wolf

• The study of reading and dyslexia from boston to Africa o We were never born to read o No genetic program for reading o Reading and math  Man-made processes • Levels of study for reading brain o Behavioral o Cognitive o Neural structures o Neurons and circuits o Genetic foundation • Dyslexic brain o Cerebro diversity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  We have different organizational schemata so that different survival functions can occur  • Biggest issue for kids with learning differences o Children and parents think they are stupid o Uninformed teachers • Marcel proust o Reading gives you access to the minds of others o Understood that the reading life is like nothing else o An author gives you their thoughts so you can use them as a platform to move beyond o Language/reading is the platform for your own growth and development • The squid o Neuroscientists used the long central neuron of the squid to study how neurons work o Today’s cognitive neuroscientists use reading to study how the brain works when confronted with new learning • Principles of brain design underpinning cultural inventions o Ability to form new connections o Capacity for working groups of neurons to specialize (pattern recognition) o Capacity for automatization • Existing circuits of neurons have to be used to make reading structures o Brain can be arranged in multiple ways to read, depending on writing system and medium • Greek writing and the alphabetic principle o The insight that words are made up of sounds and each sound can be signified by a symbol • Development of reading o NOT EASY TO MAKE A LANGUAGE UP! o The child is given 2000 days to gain the same insights • Cognitive development: concepts matter o Concepts in first language are essential platform for concepts and vocabulary in second language • In bilingual households o Child can speak neither language well enough o No foundation for reading • Language development o Phonemes  Phoneme awareness  Happens first when a child reads  Have to put together their knowledge of phonemes  Explicit emphasis on manipulation of sound  Can the brain connect them to a letter  Jokes and Dr. Seuss o Orthographic patterns  Letters and letter patterns  Conventions of print and spelling  Left to right scanning o Semantics  Welfare families have a 32 million word gap from professional families  Poor exposure th  If they don’t catch up, kids are lost by 4 grade  Semantic neighborhood • Word web of related words • Bigger neighborhood is read faster o more words but simpler phrases and all easy associations we are already making o Syntax  o Morphology  Units  Reading long words is hard unless kids can break them into units • Jam • Jams • Jamming • Unjammed • The more you know about a word, the faster you will read it and the better you will comprehend it • Development of the reading circuit o Reading is 5500 years old o Dyslexia  Nothing wrong with their brains  Possibly better brains  We just don’t know how to teach them • Parts involved in read
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