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Reading and Neuroplasticity

There are several key points to keep in mind when we talk about reading. One is that the ability to read is not innate—­that is, we are not born able to read. It is a learned skill. The human brain is not designed for reading; rather, reading developed as a result of a phenomenon called neuroplasticity. In the words of Maryanne Wolf and Mirit Barzillai, “Plasticity enables the brain to form new connections among the structures underlying vision, hearing, cognition, and language.”[3] Reading, in effect, was made possible by the brain’s ability to rewire itself. The more one reads, the more deeply the neural pathways that facilitate reading take hold. The opposite is equally true. I’ll be coming back to this point later.