Why and how are young children able to mirror write?

Why and how do young children “mirror write”? 

Mirror writing sample

I have been reading/viewing some of the research of Prof. Stanislas Dehaene, a renowned French cognitive neuroscientist. His research, and that of his colleagues, into the reading brain, is absolutely incredible.

So why is it that young children are able to mirror write with ease? And is it a sign of dyslexia?

No, it absolutely IS NOT a sign of dyslexia!

Human brains (and the brains of all primates actually) have what he has labelled “the letterbox”. This is an area in the cortex that prior to learning to read is responsible for facial and object recognition. This particular area has a symmetry function that enables us to recognise a face as being the same person, no matter which side we are looking at and despite orientation.

What his research has found through functional MRI’s and other awesome brain scanning tools, is that once we begin to learn to read as very young children, it is this “letter box” area that takes on the function of visually attending to letters. The early symmetry function continues for a while until space in the right hemisphere becomes available and facial and object recognition moves to there.

So, for a while, writing letters in a mirror reversed form occurs in young children without them even thinking about it. The brain has to ‘unlearn’ this function. It takes a little longer in some children, but eventually we lose the ability to do this. Once gone it proves quite challenging to fluently write from right to left with all letters mirror reversed!

Isn’t that fascinating! The mystery of the mirrored writing is solved!

Leonardo da Vinci mirror writing

Leonardo da Vinci mirror writing

I encourage you to watch his YouTube clips. I have included some links below. If you are amazed by the brain’s power to read (because it is actually completely unnatural for the human brain), then you must watch!
I have ordered his books- simply can’t help myself! So I look forward to sharing more incredible facts with you!

The following two clips are of Stanislas Deheane- brilliant.

How the Brain Learns to Read - Prof. Stanislas Dehaene

Lecture by Dr. Stanislas Dehaene on "Reading the Brain"

And the following clip is of Pélagie M. Beeson, PhD, Professor and Head of Speech, Language and Hearing Science at the University of Arizona talking about how the brain evolved throughout history to become a reading brain. Absolutely fascinating!

The Literate Brain


 Mrs Sharon Williams, Teacher - Learning Support


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