The Brain’s Challenge

Learning to read can be difficult for any one of a number of reasons.

CRITICAL ELEMENTS: To construct the reading experience the brain must DIFFERENTIATE and process a number of elements including: LettersPhonemesMorphemes, and Vocabulary.

CRITICAL PROCESSING: The brain must Automatize and Synchronize the sub processing of the critical elements.

CRITICAL SPEED: The brain must process all the above fast enough to construct Recognizable Words at Speeds that approximate the rate at which the brain is accustomed to Recognizing Spoken Language. Processing speed is critical. Analysis of the Eye Movements of good readers reveals that, on average, the brain must process letters into sounds in less than a tenth of a second.

THE BOTTLENECK: The ‘stutters’ in the voice of struggling readers reflect the time it takes the brain to work through the confusion in the code – the time it is taking to DISAMBIGUATE the code. Code disambiguation is the brain’s greatest challenge during the process of learning to read. Exacerbating all the other challenges is the DOWNWARD SPIRAL that disrupts and dissipates the brain’s processing when shame sets in.

“The majority of our kids who have a tough time, they are slow, they are labored in their reading”  Dr. Reid Lyon, former Branch Chief of NICHD

“You wouldn’t have to have much of a fault in this machine operating with high speed in this incredible processing efficiency that’s required to begin to see somebody be a little slower at it or a lot slower at it.” – Michael Merzenich, Neuroscientist, Member of National Academy of Sciences

“The problem with automatization is that, at any step, if you’ve got a slow down step, if any piece of that enterprise has a block or you can’t hold enough of the information, the whole house of cards falls apart” – Dr. Terrence Deacon, Neuroscientist, Anthropologist, Linguist

“The more complicated the translation from the orthography to the phonology is, the more complicated this processing dance has to be within the brain.” – Dr. Paula Tallal, Board of Governors Chair of Neuroscience, Rutgers