Questions for “Patterns in brain activity can identify who will struggle to read”

Reading and math use the same brain connections, a new study finds. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be good — or bad — at both.

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To accompany “Patterns in brain activity can identify who will struggle to read


Before Reading:

1.  Many people have trouble reading. What reasons can you think of for why some people may struggle?

2.  In what ways might reading and doing math be similar for the brain? In what ways might they differ in terms of what they ask the brain to do?

During Reading:

1.  Chris McNorgan is a cognitive neuroscientist. What do such scientists do?

2.  What does the brain need to do to allow people to read?

3.  What is dyslexia and how can it impair someone’s ability to read?

4.  Chris McNorgan used machine-learning models for his work. What are they and what did he use them to investigate?

5.  Why does a “trained” machine-learning model need to be tested with new data?

6.  What major difference in brain activity did the new research turn up between good readers and struggling readers?

7.  What did running the model with data from people doing math problems show? Why did the finding surprise McNorgan? And how does someone’s proficiency in reading and math track, according to the story?

After Reading:

1.  Different areas of the brain turn on depending on what we ask that thinking organ to do. Depending on the task and where the brain is getting information from, more than one brain area may turn on at once. Chris McNorgan used brain scans to study which parts of the brain turn on as people read? Identify some other daily activity for which you rely on the brain. If you had access to that scanner and someone to interpret its images, what activity would you use those scans to learn more about?