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You’re not rude, you’re just a close reader
The face of someone you once met long ago at a party may have been supplanted by the latest issue of Poetry. Science: Doing its part to give you high-brow excuses for social faux pas.
[MRI brain scans] scans firstly confirmed which regions of the brain are associated with reading: as expected, the visual word form area, which is known to enable people to link sounds with written symbols, became active during reading, demonstrating that it plays an important role. Unsurprisingly, those who were better readers had more activation in this area when they were reading compared with the others. And when volunteers listened to spoken sentences, all their brains showed similar responses in the visual word form area.
But when the researchers showed participants pictures of faces, the visual word form area of those who could read was much less active than that of participants who could not read. So, the researchers speculate, learning to read competes with face recognition ability – in this part of the brain at least.