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Why you’re more likely to remember something if you read it to yourself out loud

30 November 2017

Dr. Seuss wrote “the more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go”. The trouble is, we forget so much of what we read. Is there a way to read that makes it more likely we’ll remember things?

Keen to answer this question, researchers Noah Farrin and Colin MacLeod, from the University of Waterloo in Ontario Canada, ran a study published in Memory. Their results shed new light on how to study more effectively.

It’s already known that reading aloud can aid memory, but it’s not clear why: is it the act of reading, or is it hearing oneself speaking, or both? To tease apart these possibilities, the researchers first invited 75 students to their psych lab and recorded them saying 160 words out loud. At this point, the students knew they’d be returning to the lab in two weeks’ time, but didn’t know why.

When the students returned to the lab, they studied half of the words that they’d encountered earlier, in preparation for an immiment memory test.

They revised these words in four different ways: they read 20 of the words to themselves silently; they heard a recording of someone else reading 20 words; they heard the earlier recording of themselves saying 20 more of the words; and they read the last 20 words out loud to themselves (the participants varied in the order they completed these different revision methods).

Read more from guest blogger Bradley Busch on our Research Digest blog.

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