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Reading Rockets: Reading and the Brain

“Reading and the Brain,” the eighth episode of the award-winning series “Reading Rockets: Launching Young Readers,” offers an intriguing look at exciting scientific breakthroughs that may fundamentally change the way reading problems are resolved.

Host Henry Winkler, who struggles with dyslexia himself, explores how brain scientists in Washington, D.C., Houston, Chicago, Louisville and Toronto are working to solve the puzzle of why some children struggle to read and others don’t. Startling new research shows the answer may lie in how a child’s brain is wired from birth.

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reading and the brain 1

The sensors taped to Peter Oathout’s head measure how his brain cells communicate with each other, showing literally how his brain rewired itself after intensive interventions to overcome his dyslexia.

Credit: Ben DeSoto ©2005

reading and the brain 2

People with dyslexia typically use more of the right side of their brain to read, which is illustrated by the orange centers on Peter Oathout’s brain (top). After intensive tutoring, Peter began to use more of the left side of his brain (bottom), which is more typical of good readers. During this time, he moved from reading in the bottom 10th percentile to the 85th.

Credit: University of Texas Medical School at Houston

reading and the brain 3

Day-old Santana Hamond undergoes testing to determine if he can hear the difference between certain sounds, a critical indicator of whether or not he will struggle to learn to read.

Credit: Chris Hall ©2005

reading and the brain 4

Doctors Dennis and Victoria Molfese, University of Louisville, are using data from their inventive work with infants to develop early interventions for children found to be at risk for reading problems.

Credit: Chris Hall ©2005

reading and the brain 5

Arik Kimber, who has autism, and his service dog, Gus. Arik and Gus take part in “Floortime” therapy, which helps Arik improve his reading comprehension by engaging him emotionally.

Credit: Jim Ross ©2006

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