Fitness Magazine

Friday Q&A: Listening to Books

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge

Friday Q&A: Listening to Books

Contrasting Sounds by Kandinsky

The following question was left as a comment our article Svadhyaya, Reading, and Brain Strength.
Q: “I wonder when you listen to a book - say from, does it have the same effect”?

A: Listening to a book on an audio device is not the same as actually reading the book. There is a real distinction between these two activities. The latest scientific research studies suggest that changes in the brain structure and function depends on our mode of engaging the book, as it radically alters the manner in which we absorb the material. With audio devices, our eyes and sense of sight are not engaged, so there is every chance of the eyes to get distracted, which in turn dilutes the concentration of the mind. 

Just over a year ago a team of psychologists investigated the response and alertness of the mind after three different reading exposures in a study published in Frontiers in Psychology The way we encounter reading material influences how frequently we mind wander. A total of 235 volunteers enrolled in the study that involved reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. One group read one of the excerpts silently from a computer screen, the second group was asked to read loudly off the screen, and a third group just listened to the audio recording. The researchers then tested the individuals on several cognitive aspects including mind wandering, memory, and content recognition.

Reading silently, reading aloud, and listening provided dissimilar cognitive experiences. The minds of participants who read the book aloud wandered the least while the minds of those listening to the excerpt resulted wandered significantly. Listening was also associated with the poorest memory performance compared to the reading groups. Listening also led to least interest in the material as compared to reading aloud. Interestingly, the reading aloud group did better in all three tests suggesting that reading as opposed to listening is more physically engaging and readers are less likely to be distracted and disengaged. 

So if you are one of those who believe in listening and completing a chore simultaneously, you might want to rethink your reading habits.


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