Brains Reading and Writing - Symbolic Natural Language

Communication is a complex cognitive process with interactions between genetics, enviornment, neurobiology, cognition, and behavior. This illustration depicts the high level interaction for reading. The interaction for speech and writing are similar. Reading is now known to involve at least 13 distinct specialized regions of the brain, inaddition to social communication regions. Brain architecture and connectivity differences shape how the brain learns to read and write.

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The essential elements of all communication is comprehension, reasoning, and action or articulation. Reading success depends on comprehension and ontology. Comprehension depends on fluency, written word recognition rate and accuracy, and working memory size. Vocabularies are lists of words and definitions, relationships are not stressed.


Ontologies are knowledge webs with diverse interconnects, where relationships are heavily stressed. They are critical to reasoning. Visual thinkers build rich ontologies of words they can visualize. They can also connect letter sequences to these ontologies, but have challenges in decoding letter sequences and phonics, sound-symbol relationships. Words that are difficult to visuallize provide fluency obstacles, that derail reading and spelling. These words need to be explicitly taught in a manner that provides visual associations.


Building ontologies is the most important step in natural language communication. Ontologies provide a deeper understanding of words including nuances of meaning, which in turn provides quicker access to words and flexibility in deciding among multiple meanings and domain context. This generates a cycle. Having a larger ontology improves comprehension. Improved comprehension makes it possible to read more. Reading more builds ontology and comprehension.


There are three tiers of words. Tier one is sight words. Sight words are the most frequently used words in the English language. Sight words make up 50 to 70 percent of any general text. Many of the sight words cannot be sounded out phonetically and have to be memorized. Edward Dolch identified word and later Edward Fry established as separate list of 1000. Tier two are frequently used words that change with context, such as dawn. Tier two includes about 7,000 word families. Tier three are domain specific words like ecology, and include 73,500 word families at the high school level. Frequently, these are not taught explicitly, it is felt that the student will look these up in a dictionary, which as frequently does not happen. Computerized education provides multisensory tailored learning with words at your finger tip and immediate feedback.