How does learning to read affect visual processing? We addressed this issue by scanning adults who could not attend school during childhood and either remained illiterate or acquired partial literacy during adulthood (ex-illiterates). By recording event-related brain responses, we obtained a high-temporal resolution description of how illiterate and literate adults differ in terms of early visual responses. The results show that learning to read dramatically enhances the magnitude, precision, and invariance of early visual coding, within 200 ms of stimulus onset, and also enhances later neural activity. Literacy effects were found not only for the expected category of expertise (letter strings), but also extended to other visual stimuli, confirming the benefits of literacy on early visual processing.
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Impact of literacy on visual processing
From Pegado et al., a clear demonstration of how learning the act of reading enhances our visual processing: