A literate brain is different, structurally, to an illiterate one. How these differences arise is almost impossible to trace during childhood, when the brain is changing for all manner of reasons. But experiments comparing literate and illiterate adults show a link with the size of the angular gyrus, an area of the brain associated with language, as well as different and more intense patterns of mental activity elsewhere.
We have long accepted literacy as a fundamental building-block of civilisation. Today, however, neurologists face related questions which are deeply troubling to many observers: if literacy changes our brains, what will a…
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