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Reading is a recent invention in the history of human culture — too recent for dedicated brain networks to have evolved specifically for it. How, then, do we accomplish this remarkable feat? As we learn to read, a brain region known as the ‘visual word form area’ (VWFA) becomes sensitive to script (letters or characters). However, some have claimed that the development of this area takes up (and thus detrimentally affects) space that is otherwise available for processing culturally relevant objects such as faces, houses or tools.

An international research team led by Falk Huettig (MPI and Radboud University Nijmegen) and Alexis Hervais-Adelman (MPI and University of Zurich) set out to test the effect of reading on the brain’s visual system. If learning to read leads to ‘competition’ with other visual areas in the brain, readers should have different brain activation patterns from non-readers — and not just for letters, but also for faces, tools, or houses. ‘Recycling’ of brain networks when learning to read has previously been thought to negatively affect evolutionary old functions such as face processing. Huettig and Hervais-Adelman, however, hypothesized that reading, rather than negatively affecting brain responses to non-orthographic (non-letter) objects, may, conversely, result in increased brain responses to visual stimuli in general. (1)

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Seeing. Reading. Learning.

In an inactive cosmos we are active.

Don’t be fooled by the super nova or the black holes colliding.

There is silence in the cosmos.

And we break that silence with our chatter.

Seeing. Seeing more. And then even more!

Learning to read in a cosmos which says nothing.

Nothing but the obvious…

Listen to your self while reading aloud.

He doesn’t truly say anything.

Except only when you stay silent and listen to him…