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Mind Brain Educ. 2011 Sep;5(3):128-142.

Early Language Learning and Literacy: Neuroscience Implications for Education.

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Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington.


The last decade has produced an explosion in neuroscience research examining young children's early processing of language that has implications for education. Noninvasive, safe functional brain measurements have now been proven feasible for use with children starting at birth. In the arena of language, the neural signatures of learning can be documented at a remarkably early point in development, and these early measures predict performance in children's language and pre-reading abilities in the second, third, and fifth year of life, a finding with theoretical and educational import. There is evidence that children's early mastery of language requires learning in a social context, and this finding also has important implications for education. Evidence relating socio-economic status (SES) to brain function for language suggests that SES should be considered a proxy for the opportunity to learn and that the complexity of language input is a significant factor in developing brain areas related to language. The data indicate that the opportunity to learn from complex stimuli and events are vital early in life, and that success in school begins in infancy.

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