Attention to Reading

Year of award: 2023


  • Prof Ole Jensen

    University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Project summary

Reading is an essential human skill relying on coordinating saccades and visual attention while translating text to meaning. Yet the neuronal mechanisms supporting natural reading are poorly understood. We will develop a new research field exploiting insight into spatial attention to uncover the neuronal dynamics supporting natural reading - and investigate how the mechanism matures in children with learning. The research is anchored in a pipelining mechanism providing a hypothesis for how brain oscillations guide the flow of information and control saccades during reading. The mechanism will be made explicit in a computational model implemented as a dynamical deep neural network. We will test the mechanism in children and adults using magnetoencephalography (MEG) combined with eye-tracking. Hypothesis testing will rely on novel methodology including rapid invisible frequency tagging, multivariate analyses and natural language processing. Brain stimulation, perturbing neuronal oscillations, allows for causally testing the pipelining mechanism. We will develop a paediatric Optically Pumped Magnetometer (OPM) system to understand the mechanisms that must develop in children learning to read. My proposal will catalyze a new research field in which state-of-the-art electrophysiological imaging approaches are used to translate fundamental research on spatial attention to uncover the mechanism of reading and reading acquisition.