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Reading Information Aloud to Yourself Improves Memory

Summary: Whether you are studying for a big exam or just need to remember a few minor details, researchers say reading aloud can help you retain information.

Source: University of Waterloo.

You are more likely to remember something if you read it out loud, a study from the University of Waterloo has found.

A recent Waterloo study found that speaking text aloud helps to get words into long-term memory. Dubbed the “production effect,” the study determined that it is the dual action of speaking and hearing 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.”

The study tested four methods for learning written information, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud in real time. Results from tests with 95 participants showed that the production effect of reading information aloud to yourself resulted in the best remembering.

“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,” said MacLeod. “This study suggests that the idea of action or activity also improves memory.

a woman reading on a beach

This latest study shows that part of the memory benefit of speech stems from it being personal and self-referential. NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.

“And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory.”

This research builds on previous studies by MacLeod, Forrin, and colleagues that measure the production effect of activities, such as writing and typing words, in enhancing overall memory retention.

This latest study shows that part of the memory benefit of speech stems from it being personal and self-referential.

About this neuroscience research article

Source: Matthew Grant – University of Waterloo
Publisher: Organized by NeuroscienceNews.com.
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain.
Original Research: Abstract for “This time it’s personal: the memory benefit of hearing oneself” by Noah D. Forrin & Colin M. MacLeod in Memory. Published online October 2 2017 doi:10.1080/09658211.2017.1383434

Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
University of Waterloo “Reading Information Aloud to Yourself Improves Memory.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 30 November 2017.
<http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-reading-aloud-8084/>.
University of Waterloo (2017, November 30). Reading Information Aloud to Yourself Improves Memory. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved November 30, 2017 from http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-reading-aloud-8084/
University of Waterloo “Reading Information Aloud to Yourself Improves Memory.” http://neurosciencenews.com/memory-reading-aloud-8084/ (accessed November 30, 2017).

Abstract

This time it’s personal: the memory benefit of hearing oneself

The production effect is the memory advantage of saying words aloud over simply reading them silently. It has been hypothesised that this advantage stems from production featuring distinctive information that stands out at study relative to reading silently. MacLeod (2011) (I said, you said: The production effect gets personal. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18, 1197–1202. doi:10.3758/s13423-011-0168-8) found superior memory for reading aloud oneself vs. hearing another person read aloud, which suggests that motor information (speaking), self-referential information (i.e., “I said it”), or both contribute to the production effect. In the present experiment, we dissociated the influence on memory of these two components by including a study condition in which participants heard themselves read words aloud (recorded earlier) – a first for production effect research – along with the more typical study conditions of reading aloud, hearing someone else speak, and reading silently. There was a gradient of memory across these four conditions, with hearing oneself lying between speaking and hearing someone else speak. These results imply that oral production is beneficial because it entails two distinctive components: a motor (speech) act and a unique, self-referential auditory input.

“This time it’s personal: the memory benefit of hearing oneself” by Noah D. Forrin & Colin M. MacLeod in Memory. Published online October 2 2017 doi:10.1080/09658211.2017.1383434

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