Yet another body part that history forgot was revived several years ago. In 2012, researchers spied a fiber pathway in the brain that seemed to be involved in reading, but couldn't find any descriptions of it in modern medical literature. After hitting the library, they finally tracked down its discoverer: German neurologist Carl Wernicke, famous for identifying Wernicke's area (which helps us understand language). But apart from Wernicke's drawings in an 1881 brain atlas, the team found only rare mentions of the brain area, now called the vertical occipital fasciculus (VOF). The VOF's disappearing act might have been spurred by a disagreement between Wernicke and his mentor, neuroanatomist Theodor Meynert.
About 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from dyslexia, a condition that makes learning to read difficult. Dyslexia is usually diagnosed around second grade, but the results of a new study from MIT could help identify those children before they even begin reading, so they can be given extra help earlier. The study, done with researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, found a correlation between poor pre-reading skills in kindergartners and the size of a brain structure that connects two language-processing areas. Previous studies have shown that in adults with poor reading skills, this structure, known as the arcuate fasciculus, is smaller and less organized than in adults who read normally. However, it was unknown if these differences cause reading difficulties or result from lack of reading experience.