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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Peering inside the brain

June 17, 2008

Don't you love when you finally have a moment to read something that's been on your desk for two months? I had that experience today when I finally read The Reading Leader from the Haskins Literacy Initiative.

Haskins does remarkable research. In graduate school, my advisor introduced me to the work of Hollis Scarborough, Donald Shankweiler, Sally Shaywitz and others, and I've been hooked ever since!

The Spring 2008 Reading Leader includes an interview with Ken Pugh, the newly appointed President and Director of Research at Haskins Laboratories. Something he said in the interview was an important reminder.

Pugh describes the advances we've made in our ability to understand what happens in the brain of skilled readers and dyslexic readers. Have you seen the fMRI images? [If you download the Reading Leader's PDF you can see some there.]

New technologies actually show the activation differences in the brain regions between skilled and dyslexic readers. The brains function differently, and now we're able to actually see the differences.

What we're not able to do yet is to use that information to tailor reading interventions based on individual differences in brain response. And here's the important reminder: Pugh cautions that teachers and parents should be reminded of this as they are confronted with all the new 'brain based' curricula out there; much of it hasn't been well-tested and researched.

If you want to do more reading about this topic, see our Brain and Learning section, and watch our award-winning show Reading and the Brain.

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"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." — Emilie Buchwald