Brains and Reading

Jan 16th, 2010 | By | Category: Brain

Our Brain – a Pattern Synthesizer

Brains love patterns and repetition, and are hard-wired to copy. Our brains actively search for patterns to categorize, organize, synthesize information, code them into memory, and then retrieve them. Language is full of patterns, including rhymes, syllables, words, sentences, songs, and poems. Language also has patterns of sound, known as alliteration. Phonics is the patterns of print. As there are many phonics “rules”, it isn’t necessary to memorize the rules but to recognize the patterns and apply them.
Richard Gentry (Breaking the Code, 2006) states that “the brain of a literate person has an enormous capacity to sort through the thousands of letter combinations on a page of print and find the regular patterns within it by chunking. . . . The reader/writer/speller must learn to chunk strings of letters into discernable patterns . . . Without recognition of the patterns, skilled and automatic reading cannot happen.”
In a 2008 article in Educational Leadership – “Why Phonics Instruction Must Change”, Jeannine Herron states that “early instruction determines how the brain organizes itself for reading . . .  and “for most children, the first experiences with letters and words dictate how the brain establishes neural networks that may become habitual pathways as reading skills develop”.
* The statements in the first paragraph are a melding of information from the works of Marcus Conyers, Richard Gentry, Jeannine Herron, and Carol Lyons.
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