Memory and Reading
A new study from the University of Waterloo confirms what many people already knew: reading aloud is an effective way to retain information.
Moreover, the study demonstrated reading aloud assists the brain with retaining the material long term. Dubbed the “production effect,” the study determined that it is the dual action of speaking and hearing (by oneself) that has the most beneficial impact on memory.
“This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement,” said Colin M. MacLeod, a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Waterloo, who co-authored the study with the lead author, post-doctoral fellow Noah Forrin.”
When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable.”
In this study, investigators tested four methods for learning written information. These include reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud – all in real time.
The test results from the 95 participants indicated that the production effect of reading material aloud to yourself had the greatest impact on memory.
“When we consider the practical applications of this research, I think of seniors who are advised to do puzzles and crosswords to help strengthen their memory,” shared MacLeod. “This study suggests that the idea of action or activity also improves memory.
“And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory.”
This study builds on prior studies conducted by MacLeod, Forrin, and associates that measure the production effect of activities.
Examples include writing and typing words and their impact on enhancing overall memory retention.
This latest line of research shows that part of the memory benefit of speech stems (in part) from it being personal and self-referential.
The study can be found in the journal Memory.