Saturday, January 10, 2009

Learning to pattern at a time

My 4 year old son has started figuring out how to read. He pronounces each alphabet in a word and then asks me what is the word that he just read. But I know that he recognizes certain words by just looking at them, and I don't think he has learnt to 'read' them as a collection of alphabets because some of these words that he recognizes are quite long. What I think is really going on here is that he has learnt to recognize certain 'alpabetical patterns'. In fact this is the strongest evidence to me that our brain learns to recognize at least some words as patterns and we learn to read at least to some extent, by recognizing patterns of alphabets. Perhaps, as our learning progresses, we also learn to recognize phrases and sentence fragments as patterns of words. This makes sense to me also from a mathematical perspective since neural networks (such as the biological version in our brains) are very good at pattern recognition.

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