Reading: The Confluence of Vision and Language

Annu Rev Vis Sci. 2021 Sep 15;7:487-517. doi: 10.1146/annurev-vision-093019-113509. Epub 2021 Jun 24.


The scientific study of reading has a rich history that spans disciplines from vision science to linguistics, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neurology, and education. The study of reading can elucidate important general mechanisms in spatial vision, attentional control, object recognition, and perceptual learning, as well as the principles of plasticity and cortical topography. However, literacy also prompts the development of specific neural circuits to process a unique and artificial stimulus. In this review, we describe the sequence of operations that transforms visual features into language, how the key neural circuits are sculpted by experience during development, and what goes awry in children for whom learning to read is a struggle.

Keywords: VWFA; dyslexia; reading; retinotopy; visual word form area; word recognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Learning
  • Reading*
  • Temporal Lobe
  • Visual Perception