Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Neuroscience and Literacy: An Integrative View

Version 1 : Received: 6 December 2020 / Approved: 7 December 2020 / Online: 7 December 2020 (11:56:05 CET)

How to cite: Ellis, G.F.R.; Bloch, C.S. Neuroscience and Literacy: An Integrative View. Preprints 2020, 2020120139 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0139.v1). Ellis, G.F.R.; Bloch, C.S. Neuroscience and Literacy: An Integrative View. Preprints 2020, 2020120139 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0139.v1).

Abstract

Significant challenges exist globally regarding literacy teaching and learning, particularly in poor socio-economic settings in countries of the Global South. In this paper we argue that to address these challenges, major features of how the brain works that are currently ignored in the educational literature should be taken into account. First, perception is an active process based in detection of errors in hierarchical predictions of sensory data and action outcomes. Reading is a particular case. Second, emotions play a key role in underlying cognitive functioning. Innate affective systems underlie and shape all brain functioning, including oral and written forms of language and sign. Third, there is not the fundamental difference between listening/speaking and reading/writing often alleged on the basis of evolutionary arguments. Both are socio-cultural practices driven and learnt by the communication imperative of the social brain. Fourth, like listening, reading is not a linear, bottom-up process. Both are non-linear contextually shaped psycho-social processes of understanding, shaped by current knowledge and cultural contexts and practices. Reductionist neuroscience studies which focus on decontextualized parts of reading cannot access all the relevant processes. An integrated view of brain function reflecting this non-linear nature implies that an ongoing focus on personal meaning and understanding provides positive conditions for all aspects of literacy learning. Assessment of literacy teaching at all its stages should include indicators that take into account these foundational features relating reading and writing to neuroscience.

Subject Areas

Early literacy pedagogy; neuroscience; predictive processing; perception; emotion

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