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When adults learn to read, the brain changes dramatically

Ellen F. O'Connell / Hazelton Standard-Speaker via AP

A new study in Science Advances found adults who learn to read have increased activity in parts of the brain previously thought unrelated to the task.

Researchers measured brain activity before and after teaching illiterate adult women how to read over a six-month period and found learning to read changed activity in the thalamus and brainstem, evolutionary "older" brain regions humans share with other mammals.

Why it matters: There are an estimated 44 million adults who are unable to read simple sentences and about one out of 10 Americans have dyslexia. The study provides further insight into possible causes for reading disorders like dyslexia.