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Dyslexic astrophysicists better at finding black holes

By John Published: May 24, 2011

Kurt Fischer who heads the Mind, Brain and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education recently addressed the Swedish parliament about the new discipline linking biology, psychology and education.  

In the first clip, Fischer says kids are learning to read in highly educated societies, but the one-size-fits-all approach really only fits about 25 percent of students. The real breakdown appears to be around 4th grade when, after having learned to read, they fail to learn from what they read. Can all children learn? Well, half a brain is enough with enough special effort. Fischer talks about a famous case of an Argentine boy named Nico who had  the right hemisphere of his brain removed when he was three years old because of severe epilepsy. 

 In the second video clip, Fischer talks about the extraordinary visual abilities of some dyslexics, specifically, the ability of dsylexic astrophysicists to find black holes. The Harvard team brought some of the world's leading astrophysicists to Cambridge and discovered that A: many were dsylexic and B: they were way better at seeing the signature for black holes in radio waves than their nondyslexic colleagues. Some disabilities can turn out to be abilities in a different context.

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