Yale University Office of Public Affairs
Dr. Bennett A. Shaywitz
Shaywitz conducts his research in collaboration with his wife, Dr. Sally Shaywitz, the Audrey G. Ratner Professor in Learning Development. The two serve as the co-directors of the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity, which functions as a nexus for research on dyslexia, and is as well a leading source of evidence-based information and advocacy to better the lives of people with dyslexia.
Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, Shaywitz has made major contributions to understanding the neurobiology—specifically the brain organization—of reading, including the identification and localization of specific neural systems for reading; delineation of differences in these systems between good and dyslexic readers (including a neural signature for dyslexia); the functional role of the system for fluency; and the demonstration of plasticity in the neural systems for reading and their ability to reorganize in response to an effective evidence-based intervention. Most recently, he reported that neural systems for fluent, automatic reading develop differently in dyslexic compared to non-impaired readers: Non-impaired readers develop a sound-based system and dyslexic readers a memory-based system.
The author of over 300 scientific papers, Shaywitz has received many honors for his contributions to the understanding of the basic neurobiology of reading and dyslexia, including election to membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington University, the Annie Glenn Award for Leadership from Ohio State University, and the Sidney Berman Award presented by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He has been the recipient of the Haggerty-Friedman Distinguished Lectureship at the University of Rochester, the Lawrence G. Crowley Distinguished Lectureship at Stanford University, the Waldo E. Nelson Lectureship at St. Christopher's Children's Hospital, and the Leonard Apt Lectureship Award of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Shaywitz received his A.B. from Washington University and his M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine. He completed his pediatric training, including service as a chief resident and then as a postdoctoral fellow in child neurology, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
The endowed professorship to which Shaywitz has been named was established with a gift from Charles and Helen Schwab. Charles Schwab, the founder and chief executive officer of the Charles Schwab Corporation, learned he had dyslexia when he was in his 40s, at the same time that his son was diagnosed with the disorder.