In order to learn to read, a young child’s brain must be developed enough to process the information, but still capable of fast growth, according to apublished this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Researchers at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., and Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, tracked the growth of reading skills and brain development in 55 children ages 7 to 12 over three years.
They found significant differences between the children who would eventually become above-average readers and those who became below-average readers in the level and net growth of white matter in brain areas associated with reading. White matter is the tissue that transmits signals from one region of the brain to another.
Researchers said the level of white matter in the poorer readers’ brains started out lower and shrank rather than grew over time, suggesting the children were not creating and strengthening those neural pathways.
A version of this article appeared in the October 10, 2012 edition of Education Week as Reading