Cognitive Reading Development Spoken language probably emerged some 100,000 years ago as a consequence of the evolution of the brain and as a function of a critical repositioning of the larynx, which from then on, in principle, enabled the articulation of speech as we know it (Liberman, 1996). Written language however is a relatively recent cultural invention which came into existence some 5,000 years ago (Rayner & Pollatsek, 1989), but remained the privilege of only a very small proportion of the human world population until a few hundred years ago. Our brains are therefore probably not prepared, through evolution, for learning to read and spell. Despite this gap between biological and cultural evolutions, there is emerging evidence that the learning of written language takes advantage of the existing neural mechanisms for spoken language (e.g., Van Atteveldt et al., 2004) even to the point that learning a script permanently changes the speech sound system in our brains (Castro-Caldas, Petersson, Reis, Stone-Elander, Ingvar, 1998; Dehaene, Pegado, Braga et al., 2010). Since our brains are not naturally inclined to learn a script, the biggest surprise is probably that almost 90% of all children learning alphabetic as well as 18 Leo Blomert and Valéria Csépe non-alphabetic scripts learn to read and write fl uently without obvious problems. This amazing fact may only be possible because we might be recycling older evolutionary mechanisms for new purposes, such as reading and writing.