Written language is a hallmark of cultural and technological development. The ability to read written language is a testament to the effects of learning on human behavior and brain function. However, even highly practiced readers exhibit fundamental neural constraints. The fact that you are unable to read the collection of words comprising this text all at once, as desirable as that may be, draws attention to a defining property of the human brain: its limited information-processing capacity. A study by White et al. published in PNAS highlights an extreme case of capacity-limited visual information processing—our inability to read more than one word at a time—and reveals the neural basis of this limitation using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).