UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology


Locating literacy in the brain

1 November 2009

Colombian guerrillas help UCL scientists locate literacy in the brain

Scientists have redefined their understanding of the key regions of the brain involved in literacy.

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The unique study of former guerrillas in Colombia, funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science, enabled researchers to see how brain structure changed after learning to read. The regions where the brain had grown after learning to read.

In the 15th October edition of Nature, Professor Cathy Price (Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience), a member of the research team from the UK, Spain and Colombia, describes a study working with an unusual cohort: former guerrillas in Colombia who are re-integrating into mainstream society and learning to read for the first time as adults.

"Separating out changes in our brains caused by learning to read has so far proven almost impossible because of other confounding factors," explained Professor Price. "Working with the Colombia guerrillas has provided a unique opportunity to see how the brain develops when reading skills are acquired." 

more UCL News | Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at UCL

reference  An anatomical signature for literacy. Manuel Carreiras, Mohamed L. Seghier, Silvia Baquero, Adelina Estévez, Alfonso Lozano, Joseph T. Devlin, Cathy J. Price. Nature 461, 983-986 (15 October 2009) doi:10.1038/nature08461 Letter