Zeynep Saygin, PhD, Finds Brains "Prewired" for Language

A recent study by CBI faculty member Zeynep Saygin, PhD, has found novel connections to the language areas of the human brain. Dr. Saygin, senior author of the study and an Assistant Professor within Ohio State's Department of Psychology, has revealed new research that suggests humans are born with a dedicated portion of the brain that is prewired to see words and letters – a necessary prerequisite for learning how to read.

Using brain scans of newborns, Dr. Saygin and fellow researchers identified the visual word form area (VWFA), which links to the language network of our brain. While some researchers have hypothesized that the VFWA only becomes selective to words and letters after children become literate and are introduced to language, Dr. Saygin's work, recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, implies that the VFWA is not solely developing its specialized role from scratch as a person develops, but that the foundation is already present at birth.

Dr. Saygin's lab is currently scanning the brains of 3- and 4-year-olds to learn more about what the VWFA does before children learn to read, what visual stimuli the region is responsive to, and the ultimate goal for the lab is to learn how the reading and language capabilities of the brain continually change throughout development.