Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice Governance: Advisory Board Member
Maryanne Wolf studies the reading brain and uses this knowledge to help understand the major impediments to its development: from genetically based dyslexia to environmentally based illiteracy to, most recently, pandemic-related regression in learning. She uses developmental models of the reading brain circuit and its multiple component processes to create new forms of assessment and prediction before reading begins, and differential forms of intervention and instruction that enhance the development of literacy in any child, in any culture. The global implications of this research led Maryanne to help construct digital tablets that promote literacy in Ethiopia, Uganda, South Africa, India, and rural United States, particularly for non-literate children who have either no schools or inadequate instruction. Currently she is conducting research on the differential effects of print and digital media on reading development on the more cognitively demanding deep reading processes (e.g., background knowledge, empathy, inference, critical analysis). The inherent plasticity of the reading brain makes it exquisitely vulnerable to change, particularly by digital mediums and the environment. The effects of the Covid -19 crisis on children’s learning have accelerated her interest on the formation of a biliterate reading brain.