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A recent study at the University of Waterloo in Ontario examined how our minds respond to various forms of reading material. They had 235 test participants engage with three excerpts of A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson, 2003, a popular science book).
The participants read one of the excerpts silently from a computer screen, read the second excerpt aloud off the screen, and listened to the third as the screen went blank.
During each of the three ways of readings, the participants were tested for three cognitive impacts: mind-wandering, memory, and interest. Mind-wandering was measured with a prompt that appeared on the screen from time to time, asking participants whether or not they’d been paying attention. Memory was measured with a short true-or-false quiz after the excerpt. Interest was measured by participant rating.
The results are pretty clear:
Abstract of the research (free access):
We examined whether different…
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