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Writing the Brain

January 27, 2010

Scientists have pinpointed the brain region responsible for efficient reading, writing and spelling.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Reading minds…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We owe our ability to read and write efficiently to a small area of the brain called the left fusiform gyrus. This according to John’s Hopkins neuropsychologists Brenda Rapp and Kyrana Tsapkini. They compared the cognitive skills of a patient whose left fusiform gyrus had been removed because of a tumor to those of unimpaired volunteers. Tsapkini says the patient performed normally on tasks such as understanding spoken words or recognizing faces.

KYRANA TSAPKINI (Johns Hopkins University):
The task that he was impaired at was at reading low frequency words, in spelling and also understanding the meaning of what he was reading, going from print to meaning.

HIRSHON:
She says the patient was eventually able to comprehend written material and spell correctly, but it took him much more time to do so, suggesting that other areas of the brain step in to compensate. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.