We May Have 'Recycled' a Key Region of Our Brains as Humans Learned to Read

It’s generally accepted that there was no reading or writing in ancient India during the Buddha’s time. This would imply that the region of the brain that we use today for recognising symbols and reading would have been used for processing something else, or enhancing a particular aspect of a person’s experience (for example, those people might have felt emotions more deeply, or would have been better at memorising, or visualising?).

Is there a way to understand the lived experience of those ancient people’s? Maybe through anthropological studies? What I am getting at is that we are not just different from those humans culturally, but possibly neurologically as well. The Dhamma and the suttas were preached to those people, and maybe while gaining something in having the knowledge of reading, we moderns have possibly lost something quite significant too? It is generally discouraged to read while engaged in intensive meditation, and the brain is plastic so maybe this lost faculty, whatever it is, can be regained temporarily?


That’s intriguing. Thank you for sharing!

The research sounds very preliminary (and is not an unfamiliar path - I remember there was a book called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind that came out in the 60’s or 70’s and was later shown false). So in one way I don’t think there is much to do until further research is completed and assessed. But it is a fascinating idea to think not just of cultural differences but brain differences.

That was really elegantly captured! Thank you. :slightly_smiling_face:


What an interesting question. I suppose anthropologists, archeologists, and linguists all are attempting to examine this, somewhat forensicly from what remains have survived. But linking it to neurology, to see how cross disciplinary approach might inform each, is nothing I have heard/read of.

I watched this video and think it is related to this topic.