The Development of Pre-word Reading Skills Is Reviewed by Reading Education: Foundations for a Literate Computational Neuroscience

Abstract

] developed a "Berlitz model" to describe it. Let the difficulty of reading D be proportional to the fraction of unfamiliar words, and assume that D decreases logarithmically with hours per day spent reading h, dD/dt =-aDh; then if, at any given D, reading is fun for a time h and unpleasant after that, dh/dt =-b(h-h); the time paths of D and h can be predicted from their initial values. When the initial value of D is large and h is small the student ultimately becomes discouraged and quits; when h is sufficiently large, or D is relatively low, the student moves toward skilled reading. The ultimate aim of computational neuroscience is to explain how electrical and chemical signals are used in the brain to represent and process information. This goal is not new, but much has changed in the last decade. More is known now about the brain because of advances in neuroscience, more computing power is available for performing realistic simulations of neural systems, and new insights are available from the study of simplifying models of large networks of neurons. Brain models are being used to connect the microscopic level accessible by molecular and cellular techniques with the systems level accessible by the study of behavior. UD NDERSTANDING THE BRAIN IS A CHALLENGE THAT IS attracting a growing number of scientists from many disciplines. Although there has been an explosion of discoveries over the last several decades concerning the structure of the brain at the cellular and molecular levels, we do not yet understand how the nervous system enables us to see and hear, to 9 SEPTEMBER I988 learn skills and remember events, to plan actions and make choices. Simple reflex systems have served as useful preparations for studying the generation and modification of behavior at the cellular level (1). In mammals, however, the relation between perception and the activity of single neurons is more difficult to study because the sensory capacities assessed with psychophysical techniques are the result of activity in many neurons from many parts of the brain. In humans, the higher brain functions such as reasoning and language are even further removed from the properties of single neurons. Moreover, even relatively simple behaviors, such as stereotyped eye movements, involve complex interactions among large numbers of neurons distributed in many different brain areas (2-4). Explaining higher functions is difficult, in part, because nervous systems have many …

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