The Neuronal Recycling Hypothesis for Reading and the Question of Reading Universals

Authors

  • MAX COLTHEART

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Cognition and its Disorders and Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University
    • Address for correspondence: Centre for Cognition and its Disorders and Department of Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW. Australia 2109. Email: max.coltheart@mq.edu.au

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  • I thank Naama Friedmann, Petroula Mousikou, Claudio Mulatti, Kati Renvall, Ami Sambai, Shivani Tiwari, Taeko Wydell and Peng Zhou for what they have told me about some of the world's writing systems.

Abstract

Are there universals of reading? There are three ways of construing this question. Is the region of the brain where reading is implemented identical regardless of what writing system the reader uses? Is the mental information-processing system used for reading the same regardless of what writing system the reader uses. Do the word's writing systems share certain universal features? Dehaene offers affirmative answers to all three questions in his book. Here I suggest instead that the answers should be negative. And I ask: if reading is not universal in any sense, what does this imply about Dehaene's Neuronal Recycling hypothesis for reading?

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