Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention

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Viking, 2009 - Psychology - 388 pages
A renowned cognitive neuroscientist's fascinating and highly informative account of how the brain acquires reading

How can a few black marks on a white page evoke an entire universe of sounds and meanings? In this riveting investigation, Stanislas Dehaene provides an accessible account of the brain circuitry of reading and explores what he calls the ?reading paradox?: Our cortex is the product of millions of years of evolution in a world without writing, so how did it adapt to recognize words? Reading in the Brain describes pioneering research on how we process language, revealing the hidden logic of spelling and the existence of powerful unconscious mechanisms for decoding words of any size, case, or font.

Dehaene's research will fascinate not only readers interested in science and culture, but also educators concerned with debates on how we learn to read, and who wrestle with pathologies such as dyslexia. Like Steven Pinker, Dehaene argues that the mind is not a blank slate: Writing systems across all cultures rely on the same brain circuits, and reading is only possible insofar as it fits within the limits of a primate brain. Setting cutting-edge science in the context of cultural debate, Reading in the Brain is an unparalleled guide to a uniquely human ability.

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About the author (2009)

French scientist Stanislas Dehaene is a world authority on the cognitive neuroscience of language and number processing in the human brain. He is the director of the Cognitive Neuroimaging Unit in Saclay, France, a professor of experimental cognitive psychology at the Coll├Ęge de France, a member of the French Academy of Sciences and of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He is the author of several books, including The Number Sense. In 2008 he was profiled in The New Yorker for his work in numerical cognition.

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