The Changing Reading Brain of the21st Century: The Importance of “Knowing what we do not Know” for the Future of How We ThinkThe Importance of “Knowing what we do not Know”
Center for Reading and Language Research• Maryanne Wolf, Director • Mirit Barzillai, Semantics, Global• Stephanie Gottwald, Asst. Literacy, Technology Director, Linguistics, Teacher • Elizabeth Norton, Brain Imaging Training in Early Predictors of Dyslexia• Yashira Perez, Genes, Dyslexia, African-American & • Kate Ullman, African-American Latino children Dialect and Reading• Cathy Moritz, Music and • Surina Basho, Memory and Reading Dyslexia Subtypes• Yvonne Gill (Arizona) and Lynne Miller, Curriculum • Melissa Orkin, Affective Development for RAVE-O Development and Dyslexia Basic and Plus
I am deeply indebted to... Heidi Bally Cinthia Coletti Haan Ulrike Kesper-Grossman and Paul Grossman Rossella and Aurelio Maria Mottola
Great transitions in Communication 1 Non- language to Oral Language 2 Oral Language to Written Language 3 Written Language to Digital Culture
Three Questions of Kant (Dunne, 2012) What can we know? What should we do? What may we hope?
1. Can what we know about the evolution of the reading brain inform the future, digital culture? 2. Can what we know about the What can we reading brain illumine what we do not Know from know about how reading and thought will develop in the next generation ?Neurosciences ? 3. Can knowledge about the “reading brain”, combined with multiple ways of knowing ---exemplified by Socrates, Proust, and Nicholas of Cusa--- propel a more hopeful approach to our transition?
1. Can what we know about the evolution of the reading brain inform the future, digital culture ?
An Approach to the Study of Reading from Cognitive Neurosciences from Cognitive Neurosciences
The human brain was never born to read.How did the human brain learn to read withno genetic program or specific reading center?
Dehaene, 2009“Neuronal Recycling” for Literacy
Principles of Brain Design Underpinning Cultural Inventions• Ability to form new connected circuits• Capacity for “working groups” of neurons to specialize (pattern recognition)• Capacity for Two Pyramidals,Greg Dunn automatization
“Neuronal Niche” (Dehaene,2009)For First Logographic Symbols Y
Evidence for Neuronal Recycling and Possibly Proto-letters Dehaene’s Studies ofNumeracy in Primates Studies of Baboons and Orthographic Learning Grainger et al. New Studies of Non- Literate Children in Ethiopia-Tufts and MIT Media Lab
Earlier Tablets: Sumerian Earliest emphases on phonology, orthography, semantics, syntax, and morphology (Cohen, 2000)
Greek Writing and the Alphabetic Principle The insight that words are made up of sounds and each sound can be signified by a symbol .
Multiple Circuits of Reading BrainEnglish Brain can rearrange itself in multipleChinese ways to read,& Kanji depending on writing systemJapanese and medium. Bulger, Perfetti, & Schneider Kana
How does the Young Brain Learn to Read? Each new reader mustcreate a new reading circuit from older cognitive and linguisticstructures and their connections
The Heart of Expert Reading Expert ReadingAt the heart ofreading,100 to 200milliseconds allow us“time to thinknew thoughts”.
“We feel quite truly that our wisdom begins with that of the author…By a law which perhaps signifies that we can receive the truth from nobody, that which is the end of their wisdom appears to us as but the beginning of ours.”“Nous sentons Marcel Proust tres bien que notre sagesse commence oucelle de l’auteur finit... “
InferenceAnalogicalThinkingCritical Analysisand DeliberationInsight andEpiphanyContemplationGoing beyond thewisdom of the author
2. Can what we know about the Reading Brainillumine what we do not know about how reading and thought will develop in a digital culture ?
What are the deeper implications of having aplastic reading circuit as we move to a digitally dominated set of mediums ?
How do we think on-line?“The scariest thing about Stanley Kubrick’s vision wasn’t that computers started to act like people but that people had started to act like computers. We’re beginning to process information as if we’re nodes; it’s all about the speed of locating and reading data.We’re transferring our intelligence into the machine, and the machine is transferring its way of thinking into us.” Nick Carr in “Do you trust Google?”, WIRED, Jan. 2008
Cognitive characteristics of on-line reading in the digital reading brainContinuous partial attention; less sustained attention and focus“Set” for immediacy and speed of processingFaster multi-tasking of large sets of information 37
Differences in Attention: “Skimming is the newnormal”Scanning, browsing, bouncing, keyword spotting (Liu,2005, 2009)Less time on in-depth, concentrated readingPsychological reflex to “click” and move “set”Decreased sustained attention
More attention tovisual, external imageryLess emphases ontouch and materialityLess internalization ofknowledge, and moredependence on externalsources
Cognitive Effects of Multi-tasking: Brain Imaging Studies Brain Imaging Studies“Even if we can learn while distracted,it changes how you learn, makingthe learning less efficient and useful” “Multitasking hinders learning” Russ Poldrack (2006) Proceedings from National Academy of Science
Touch and Materiality Factors: Kinesthesia and Synesthesia Emphases in Screen and Print“Near impossibility of getting immersed in hypertext in same way as getting lost in a book” (Mangen, 2009)
Comprehension for On-Screen vs. PrintScreen Print (Ackerman & Lauterman, 2012)
The Formation of Deep ReadingHow does deep reading come to be?
Cautions From the Last Transition Socrates feared that print would give the illusion of truth and create no ambition in the young beyond the superfluity of knowledge .
Is superfluity (“shallow reading”)and the expectation for constant,immediate external information bethe new threat for digital readers? Will these emphases short-circuit the reading brain?
Will the process of internalization of knowledgerequire too much time and cognitive effort given immediateaccess to external knowledgeWill imagination in childhood be displaced by too muchthat is given too quickly requiring too littleeffort ?Will the development of imagery in the child bedisplaced by visual imagery that is provided
We can not go back to apre-digital time; but, weshould not lurch forward without understanding what we will lose ,what we will gain , for our species’ cognitive repertoire.
“It would be a shame if brilliant technology were to end up threatening the kind of intellect that produced it.” - Edward Tenner
Three Questions of Kant (Dunne, 2012) What can we know? What should we do? What may we hope ?
3. Can knowledge about the “reading brain”, combined with multiple ways of knowing ---exemplified bySocrates/Aristotle, Proust, and Nicholas of Cusa--- propel a more hopeful approach to our transition?
How do we prevent “Shortcircuiting” of deep reading brain while acquiring new skills necessary for the 21st Century?
“A culture can be judged by how it pursues three lives: the life ofactivity and productivity, the life of enjoyment, the life of contemplation.” -Aristotle
➡ Massive information processing with more non-linear branching and iconic emphases Advantages of Digital Reading ➡ Speed and efficiencyBrain for the Life ➡ Multi-tasking and of Activity and interactive communication Productivity ➡ Democratization of knowledge
One of the greatest impediments to this form of reading is the “busy mind” thatskips from one thoughtto the next without the capacity to enter thehidden depths of words that require both receptivity and thequiet focusing of attention. -Enzo Bianchi
Advantages of DeepReading Brain for the “Life ofContemplation”The timerequired by deep reading both in milliseconds during the reading actand in years of formation changes the quality of thought.
“We transgress notbecause we try to build the new, but because we do not allow ourselves to consider what it disrupts or diminishes” -Sherry Turkle, Alone Together
How do we resolve a “coincidence of opposites of believable truths”? -Nicholas of Cusa
“learn-ed ignorance”A kind of knowing that is aware of its own limits: what we know what we do not knowand what we need to know to understand and move forward. to understand and move forward.
We do not know...... but we can predict that information will accelerate atrates that will make completely new demands on every person in the next generation. Courtesy of Ray Kurzweil and Kurzweil Technologies, Inc.
We do not know......if immediate access to massive amounts of information will change the nature of internal processing during reading--- its deeper comprehension and the internalization of knowledge for future thoughts and insights beyond information given.
We do not know...... if the immediate access to this increasing amount of external information in the young will deter from the formation of “Deep Reading” processes or the desire to probe more deeply into its meaning or to go beyond it.
We do not know...... if such changes in internalized knowledge will result ina very different set of cognitive capacities to synthesize,infer from information, and go beyond it in very different,and more innovative ways than before, more appropriate for the digital culture.
Three Questions of Kant (Dunne, 2012) What can we know? What should we do? What may we hope ?
“I think there’s acommon point between both worlds, and then there’s also a point of departure where theyeach demonstrate their own sort of possibilities.” -Mark Danielewski
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How do we add to the repertoire of the expert“Knowing what we reading brain withoutdo not Know” diminishing its present capacities?as the basis for ourQuestions How can the digital medium be designed to redress its own shortcomings?
How can we create the conditions for new readers todevelop a bi-literate brain and to know whento skim and when to dive deeply?
A lecture about how the brain learns to leapbeyond the information given shouldn’t have a last slide.....