The skill of reading is uniquely placed in brain research. It is the most widely practiced skill that humans specifically learn (in contrast to spoken speech, which is acquired without deliberate instruction). As such it offers opportunities for research on the brain representation of cognitive skills. (Are they modular, incorporating a single “reading center,” or componential, using multiple component processes diversely localized?) Because of its great practical importance and the wide range of individual difference in its acquisition and ultimate level of performance, investigators have attempted to determine the nature of reading mechanisms, their brain basis, and the nature of the differences between skilled and unskilled readers (quantitative or qualitative). Particular attention is currently paid to the question of why dyslexics experience disproportionate difficulty in learning to read for reasons of brain maturation (rather than environmental deficiency).
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