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Mind, Brain, and Education in Reading Disorders
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 (ISBN-13: 9780511276309)

Mind, Brain, and Education in Reading Disorders

One of the key topics for establishing meaningful links between brain sciences and education is the development of reading. How does biology constrain learning to read? How does experience shape the development of reading skills? How does research on biology and behavior connect to the ways that schools, teachers, and parents help children learn to read, particularly in the face of disabilities that interfere with learning? This book addresses these questions and illuminates why reading disorders have been hard to identify, how recent research has established a firm base of knowledge about the cognitive neuroscience of reading problems and the learning tools for overcoming them, and, finally, what the future holds for relating mind, brain, and education to understanding reading difficulties. Connecting knowledge from neuroscience, genetics, cognitive science, child development, neuropsychology, and education, this book will be of interest to both academic researchers and graduate students.

KURT W. FISCHER is Charles Warland Bigelow Professor of Education and Human Development and Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. He is founding president of the International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and founding editor of the new journal Mind, Brain, and Education.

JANE HOLMES BERNSTEIN is a developmental neuropsychologist who divides her time between teaching, writing, and research responsibilities at the Children's Hospital Boston and the establishment of a National Child Development Program in Trinidad and Tobago.

MARY HELEN IMMORDINO-YANG studies the neuroscience of emotion and its relation to cognitive, linguistic, and social development at the Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California. She recently received her doctorate from the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.

Cambridge Studies in Cognitive and Perceptual Development

Series Editors

University of the Air, Chiba, Japan
Harvard University, USA

Advisory Board

Gavin Bremner, Lancaster University, UK
Patricia M. Greenfield, University of California, Los Angeles, USA
Paul Harris, Harvard University, USA
Daniel Stern, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Esther Thelen, Indiana University, USA

The aim of this series is to provide a scholarly forum for current theoretical and empirical issues in cognitive and perceptual development. As the twenty-first century begins, the field is no longer dominated by monolithic theories. Contemporary explanations build on the combined influences of biological, cultural, contextual, and ecological factors in well-defined research domains. In the field of cognitive development, cultural and situational factors are widely recognized as influencing the emergence and forms of reasoning in children. In perceptual development, the field has moved beyond the opposition of “innate” and “acquired” to suggest a continuous role for perception in the acquisition of knowledge. These approaches and issues will all be reflected in the series, which will also address such important research themes as the indissociable link between perception and action in the developing motor system, the relationship between perceptual and cognitive development and modern ideas on the development of the brain, the significance of developmental processes themselves, dynamic systems theory, and contemporary work in the psychodynamic tradition, especially as it relates to the foundations of self-knowledge.

Titles published in the series

1.   Jacqueline Nadel and George Butterworth, Imitation in Infancy

2.   Margaret Harris and Giyoo Hatano, Learning to Read and Write: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective

3.   Michael Siegal and Candida Peterson, Children’s Understanding of Biology and Health

4.   Paul Light and Karen Littleton, Social Processes in Children’s Learning

5.   Antonio M. Battro, Half a Brain is Enough: The Story of Nico

6.   Andrew N. Meltzoff and Wolfgang Prinz, The Imitative Mind: Development, Evolution and Brain Bases

7.   Nira Granott and Jim Parziale, Microdevelopment: Transition Processes in Development and Learning

8.   Edited by Heidi Keller, Ype H. Poortinga and Axel Schölmerich, Between Culture and Biology: Perspectives on Ontogenetic Development

9.   Nobuo Masataka, The Onset of Language

10.   Edited by Andreas Demetriou and Athanassios Raftopoulos, Cognitive Developmental Change: Theories, Models and Measurement

Mind, Brain, and Education in
Reading Disorders

Edited by

Kurt W. Fischer, Jane Holmes Bernstein,
and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Cambridge University Press 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2007

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data
Mind, brain, and education in reading disorders / edited by Kurt W.
Fischer, Jane Holmes Bernstein, and Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.
p. cm. – (Cambridge studies in cognitive and perceptual development; 11)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13: 978-0-521-85479-5 (hardback)
ISBN-10: 0-521-85479-2 (hardback)
1. Reading disability. 2. Reading disability – Pathophysiology. 3. Reading –
Physiological aspects. I. Fischer, Kurt W. II. Bernstein, Jane Holmes, 1947–
III. Immordino-Yang, Mary Helen, 1971– IV. Series: Cambridge studies in
cognitive perceptual development; 11.
[DNLM: 1. Dyslexia – physiopathology. 2. Dyslexia – psychology.
3. Dyslexia – therapy. WL 340.6 M664 2007]
RC394.W6M562 2007
616.8553 – dc22

ISBN 978-0-521-85479-5 hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To our late colleagues and friends who made fundamental
contributions to this book – Ann Brown, Robbie Case,
Jeanne Chall, and Samuel P. Rose


  List of figures page xii
  List of tables xiv
  List of contributors xv
  Acknowledgements xvii
Part I   What is Reading, and What are Reading Disorders? Looking to Neuroscience, Evolution, and Genetics
1   Toward a grounded synthesis of mind, brain, and education for reading disorders: an introduction to the field and this book 3
2   An evolutionary perspective on reading and reading disorders 16
  Essay: Brain volume and the acquisition of adaptive capacities 30
3   The genetics of dyslexia: what is the phenotype? 37
Part II   Reading and the Growing Brain: Methodology and History
4   A brief history of time, phonology, and other explanations of developmental dyslexia 61
5   Approaches to behavioral and neurological research on learning disabilities: in search of a deeper synthesis 80
6   Growth cycles of mind and brain: analyzing developmental pathways of learning disorders 101
  Essay: Cycles and gradients in development of the cortex 124
7   Brain bases of reading disabilities 133
8   The neural correlates of reading disorder: functional magnetic resonance imaging 148
9   Patterns of cortical connection in children with learning problems 168
  Essay: The role of experience in brain development: adverse effects of childhood maltreatment 176
Part III   Watching Children Read
10   Finding common ground to promote dialogue and collaboration: using case material to jointly observe children’s behavior 181
11   Analyzing the reading abilities of four boys: educational implications 196
12   First impressions: What four readers can teach us 217
13   Analysis of reading disorders from a neuropsychological perspective 227
14   An educational/psychological perspective on the behaviors of three children with reading disabilities 243
Part IV   Reading Skills in the Long Term
15   The importance of comprehension in reading problems and instruction 255
  Essay: Bring reading research to the trenches 261
16   What successful adults with dyslexia teach educators about children 264
17   Is a synthesis possible? Making doubly sure in research and application 282
  Appendix: Transcript and behavioral data from Profiles in Reading Skills (Four Boys) 293
  Index 327


2.1   A nested model of dyslexia 25
3.1   Ectopias in mice 48
5.1   Relation of counting speed to span 89
5.2a   Growth rate of EEG coherence between frontal and posterior cortex 89
5.2b   Growth rate of working memory 90
5.3   Youth literacy as a function of parents’ education in seven countries 93
6.1   Two developmental webs showing different pathways 103
6.2   Pathway A for reading words: Developmental web with visual–graphic/auditory branching 106
6.3a   Pathway B: Independence of reading and rhyming 108
6.3b   Pathway C: Independence of reading, letter identification, and rhyming 108
6.4   Attractor pattern of hierarchical development 112
6.5   Spreading pattern of hierarchical development: The Piaget effect 113
6.6   A growth cycle of cortical connections that repeat for each developmental level 116
6.7   Clusters of growth changes for two optimal levels across strands in a web 117
6.8   A series of spurts in development of relative energy in EEG 118
6.9   Emergence of a new optimal level for abstract mappings of arithmetic operations 122
7.1   The three levels of representation of word knowledge necessary for speech production. 140
7.2   Left neglect in a dyslexic child of 7 years 11 months 145
9.1   Coherence values for factor 16 in diverse tasks for learning disabled and control children 171
9.2   Pattern of cortical connection based on coherence (factor 16) associated with learning disorders 172
13.1   A conceptual framework for neuropsychological assessment 228
A1   Jonathan’s alternating hand tapping task 307
A2   William’s alternating hand tapping task 307
A3   Brian’s alternating hand tapping task 307
A4   Andrew’s alternating hand tapping task 307
A5   Jonathan’s asynchronous hand tapping task 307
A6   William’s asynchronous hand tapping task 307
A7   Brian’s asynchronous hand tapping task 307
A8   Andrew’s asynchronous hand tapping task 307
A9   Rey-Osterrieth complex figure 308
A10A   Jonathan’s copying of Rey-Osterrieth figure 309
A10B   Jonathan’s immediate recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 310
A10C   Jonathan’s delayed recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 311
A11A   William’s copying of Rey-Osterrieth figure 312
A11B   William’s immediate recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 313
A11C   William’s delayed recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 314
A12A   Brian’s copying of Rey-Osterrieth figure 315
A12B   Brian’s immediate recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 316
A12C   Brian’s delayed recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 317
A13A   Andrew’s copying of Rey-Osterrieth figure 318
A13B   Andrew’s immediate recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 319
A13C   Andrew’s delayed recall of Rey-Osterrieth figure 320
A14   Jonathan’s handwriting sample 322
A15   William’s handwriting sample 322
A16   Brian’s handwriting sample 323
A17   Andrew’s handwriting sample 323


4.1.   History of names for dyslexia. 63
6.1.   Response profiles for a Guttman scale with branch at step 2. 106
8.1.   fMRI studies of phonological processing in dyslexic and normal readers. 156
8.2.   fMRI studies of visual pathways in dyslexic and normal readers. 158
8.3.   fMRI studies of temporal processing in dyslexic and normal readers. 159
11.1.   Reading performance (number correct/number presented on film). 199
11.2.   Sample of William’s word and non-word reading errors. 201
11.3.   Sample of Brian’s word and non-word reading errors listed by error type (target response). 202
11.4.   Sample of Andrew’s word and non-word reading errors listed by error type (target response). 204
13.1.   Premises of child neuropsychological assessment. 229
13.2.   Case analysis of boys with reading disorders. 230
14.1.   Descriptive aspects of paragraph reading performance in four children. 245
14.2.   Relative performance of children on four tasks. 247
16.1.   Self-reported problems of the 60 participants with dyslexia. 266
16.2.   Gender and topics of high interest reading (by author). 272
A1.   Demographic data for the four boys. 294
A2.   Tasks performed by the four boys. 297
A3.   Performances for rapid naming tasks. 299
A4.   Performances for untimed reading tasks. 302
A5.   Performances for timed reading tasks. 304
A6.   Performances for Rey-Osterrieth complex figure organization and style. 321


JANE ASHBY, Ph.D., is a researcher at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and teaches at Hampshire College.

FRANCINE MARY BENES, M.D., Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry at McLean Hospital.

JANE HOLMES BERNSTEIN, Ph.D., is Senior Associate in Psychology/ Neuropsychology at the Children’s Hospital Boston.

BENITA A. BLACHMAN, Ph.D., is Trustee Professor of Education and Psychology at Syracuse University.

SUSAN A. BRADY, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology at University of Rhode Island and a Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories.

JOSEPH C. CAMPIONE, Ph.D., is Professor of Education (Emeritus) at the University of California at Berkeley.

ROBBIE CASE (deceased) was Professor of Education (Emeritus) and Director of the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto.

VERNE S. CAVINESS JR., M.D., D.Phil., is the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the Joseph and Rose Kennedy Professor of Child Neurology and Mental Retardation at Harvard Medical School.

TERRENCE W. DEACON, Ph.D., is Professor of Biological Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley.

FRANK H. DUFFY, M.D., is Associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Clinical Neurophysiology Laboratory at the Children’s Hospital Boston.

ROSALIE P. FINK, Ed.D., is Professor of Literacy at Lesley University.

KURT W. FISCHER, Ph.D., is Charles Warland Bigelow Professor and Director of the Mind, Brain, and Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

ALBERT M. GALABURDA, M.D., is the Emily Fisher Landau Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Division of Behavioral Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

MARY HELEN IMMORDINO-YANG, Ed.D., holds a joint Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Brain and Creativity Institute and the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.

E. JULIANA PARé-BLAGOEV, Ed.D., is a Research Scientist at The MIND Institute and Assistant Professor at the University of New Mexico Department of Psychology.

DAVID H. ROSE, Ed.D., is Co-Executive Director of the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST).

L. TODD ROSE is a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

SAMUEL P. ROSE, Ph.D., (deceased) taught at the University of Colorado.

SANDRA PRIEST ROSE is a founding trustee of the Reading Reform Foundation.

GORDON F. SHERMAN, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Newgrange School and Education Center in Princeton, NJ.

H. GERRY TAYLOR, Ph.D., is Professor of Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University.

MARTIN H. TEICHER, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Developmental Biopsychiatry Research Program at McLean Hospital.

ROBERT W. THATCHER, Ph.D., is Director of the NeuroImaging Laboratory at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center and an adjunct Professor of Neurology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

JOSEPH TORGESEN, Ph.D., is the W. Russell and Eugenia Morcom Chair of Psychology and Education at Florida State University and Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research.

DEBORAH WABER, Ph.D., is Director of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Children’s Hospital Boston and Associate Professor (Psychology) in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

MARYANNE WOLF, Ed.D., is Director of the Center for Reading and Language Research and Professor of Child Development at Tufts University.


This book and the collaborations that it reflects grew out of the creative efforts engendered by Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB), the Harvard Interfaculty Initiative to promote cross-disciplinary dialogue about cognitive science, biology, and society. Supported by this broad effort, several faculty from Harvard and other Boston universities met regularly as a study group focusing on the development of brain and behavior, especially in the educational arena and other culturally important domains. Beyond networking, MBB provided logistic and financial support for a conference in which researchers and practitioners from more distant institutions came to Harvard to discuss the issue that is the focus of this book – analyzing reading skills and problems by combining biology, cognitive science, and education to inform research and practice. From this group and the conference the approach grew that we now call Mind, Brain, and Education (MBE). This book is the first publication from our group that articulates this new approach.

We (the editors) especially thank the working group on brain and behavior development that started this effort: Francine Benes, Jerome Kagan, Deborah Waber, Maryanne Wolf, and two of us (Fischer and Bernstein). Equally essential were the doctoral students who helped convince the Harvard community that the Mind, Brain, and Education approach was both worthwhile and sorely needed for children and schools – Donna Coch, Michael W. Connell, Juliana Paré-Blagoev, Kimberly Sheridan, and one of us (Immordino-Yang).

For the logistics of the conference and book, Erma Larson provided energetic, sensitive support for the attendees and the editors. Stephanie Prady and Nancy Rosenthal organized the logistics of the conference. Todd Rose diligently cleaned up the manuscript. Elizabeth Knoll of Harvard University Press made cogent suggestions for organizing the book. Sarah Caro of Cambridge University Press supported our efforts to finish the book together through the various delays and tribulations that come inevitably from coordinating scholars and practitioners from many diverse perspectives. Mary Kiesling did heroic work preparing the final manuscript and coordinating efforts among contributors. Jane Haltiwanger, Leonard Bernstein, and Kyle Yang provided emotional support to the editors.

The students in our classes and training programs played an essential role in stimulating ideas for approaches to building connections between biology, cognitive science, and education. Most of all, they unknowingly supported us with their confidence in the MBE endeavor and their energy and flexibility in pursuing it.

Funding sources and intellectual support that helped sustain this work include the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Initiative, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick P. Rose and Sandra P. Rose, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Children’s Hospital Boston, and NICHD.

Most of all, we thank the authors of the papers in this volume and the colleagues who participated in the dialogue that shaped these papers at the conference and in the MBB group. All the authors worked with us to create intellectual coherence in the volume and to begin to fulfill some of the promise of the new approach that connects mind, brain, and education to illuminate reading skills and problems.<

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