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One Area of Brain Sees Familiar Words as Pictures, Another Sounds Out Words

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Georgetown neuroscientists say once a word is known, sounding it out is not necessary.

Skilled readers can quickly recognize words when they read because the word has been placed in a visual dictionary of sorts which functions separately from an area that processes the sounds of written words, say Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) neuroscientists. The visual dictionary idea rebuts a common theory that our brain needs to “sound out” words each time we see them. 

This finding, published online today in Neuroimage, matters because unraveling how the brain solves the complex task of reading can help in uncovering the brain basis of reading disorders, such as dyslexia, say the scientists.

Some people must have very big visual dictionaries!

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