A key question in reading research is how the brain processes written words. Answers to this question have been appearing rapidly since the turn of the century. Related to this question is how the language environment shapes brain function-specifically, how the type of script that is used in a language has an impact on the cognitive processes engaged by the brain during normal reading and in developmental dyslexia. We know that there is a cultural effect of language on neural processing, which is revealed by differences in how the brain functions in normal reading and in dyslexia across languages (see, for example, Paulesu et al., 2000, and chapter 12, this volume). It is clear from this research that the language environment shapes how the brain recognizes written words. The aim of this chapter is to illustrate how reading researchers can exploit the differences between alphabetic and non-alphabetic scripts to discover how orthography has an impact on brain function. (For a discussion of the properties of non-alphabetic scripts the reader is referred to chapter 10, this volume.) The focus is on two theoretical questions posed by current models of normal and impaired word recognition: (1) whether the age of acquisition (AoA) of a word has an impact on brain functioning that is independent of word frequency; and (2) whether orthography has an impact on spoken word production.