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psychology
Reading in the Brain: The Science and Evolution of a Human Invention
 
 
Author
Stanislas Dehaene.
Publisher Viking  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 1.25 inches
ISBN 9780670021109
Pages/Publication Date 388/2009
Daedalus Item Code 21523
List Price: $27.95
Sale Price: $6.98
You Save: $20.97
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How can a few black marks on a white page evoke an entire universe of sounds and meanings? French scientist Stanislas Dehaene, a world authority on the cognitive neuroscience of language and number processing in the human brain, here 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? Dehaene describes pioneering research on how we process language, revealing the hidden logic of spelling and the existence of powerful unconscious mechanisms for decoding words.

"The transparent and automatic feat of reading comprehension disguises an intricate biological effort, ably analyzed in this fascinating study. Drawing on scads of brain-imaging studies, case histories of stroke victims and ingenious cognitive psychology experiments, cognitive neuroscientist Dehaene diagrams the neural machinery that translates marks on paper into language, sound and meaning. It's a complex and surprising circuitry, both specific, in that it is housed in parts of the cortex that perform specific processing tasks, and puzzlingly abstract. (The brain, Dehaene hypothesizes, registers words mainly as collections of pairs of letters.) The author proposes reading as an example of neuronal recycling—the recruitment of previously evolved neural circuits to accomplish cultural innovations—and uses this idea to explore how ancient scribes shaped writing systems around the brain's potential and limitations. (He likewise attacks modern whole language reading pedagogy as an unnatural imposition on a brain attuned to learning by phonics.) This lively, lucid treatise proves once again that Dehaene is one of our most gifted expositors of science; he makes the workings of the mind less mysterious, but no less miraculous."—Publishers Weekly

 
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