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Home » The True Gifts of a Dyslexic Mind: Dean Bragonier (Transcript)

The True Gifts of a Dyslexic Mind: Dean Bragonier (Transcript)

Full transcript of advocate and educator Dean Bragonier’s TEDx Talk: The True Gifts of a Dyslexic Mind @TEDxMarthasVineyard conference. This event occurred on August 31, 2015.

Listen to the MP3 audio:


Here’s the moment of truth: Anybody in this audience have dyslexia? Show of hands. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Some more. Thank you. That’s almost a fair assessment. We’ve got about 20% of the general population has dyslexia. That’s 1 in 5 people. And I think that dyslexia is most commonly understood as this reading issue, you know, we have a tendency of flipping our b’s and d’s and our q’s and g’s. And that’s, you know, I think that’s a fair assessment, at least in the symptomatic department. But I want to take this opportunity to speak a little bit more in depth about the neuroscience of dyslexia.

The Neuroscience of Dyslexia

So, we have this outer layer of our brain called the cortex. And we all know that we have — or maybe we don’t know – but we have these little things called minicolumns, okay? And these minicolumns serve as the telephone poles, if you will. What strings together on these minicolumns are axons.

Okay? Now, people with autism, for example, have axons that are extremely closely located in proximity to each other, and as a result, their axon lengths are very, very finite and short, and as a result they are able to do these incredibly detailed, highly specific patterns and behaviors and skills, right? Well, dyslexics are on the other side of that spectrum; we have our minicolumns that are spaced very, very far apart. As a result, our axon lengths are significantly longer. And this actually lends to some significant cognitive advantages.

We have an ability to look at a situation and identify seemingly disparate pieces of information and blend those into a narrative, or a tapestry, that makes sense to us that most people can’t see. So this translates into an exceptional level of success in four major vocational paths. That’s entrepreneurship, engineering, architecture and the arts. I just want you to please remember that, as it comes up later in this discussion.

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