Article image

Want to boost your memory? Try reading aloud

One simple trick can help to keep new information fresh in your mind, according to a new study: reading aloud to yourself.

Reading aloud is a better memory trick than hearing it from someone else or reading silently, according to the study, led by Dr. Colin MacLeod of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

The technique, dubbed the production effect, seems to work because reading aloud and hearing oneself at the same time are more personal than reading silently or hearing information from someone else, the scientists wrote in an abstract of the study.

In the experiment, the scientists included sessions in which volunteers listened to information shared by someone else, and recordings of themselves reading the new information, a first in studies of the production effect’s influence on memory. They also included the typical exercises of reading aloud and reading silently.

“There was a gradient of memory across these four conditions, with hearing oneself lying between speaking and hearing someone else speak,” the researchers wrote.

Reading silently was the least effective way to remember new information, according to the study.

The study lines up with past research by the same team that shows writing or typing information also improves recall.

“This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement,” McLeod told the Daily Mail. “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 findings can help educators seeking to better teach their students and doctors offering elderly patients with new exercises to boost their memory skills. It also helps to explain why crossword puzzles and other brain teasers are linked to better cognitive skills later in life.

“This study suggests that the idea of action or activity also improves memory,” MacLeod told the Daily Mail. “And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory.”

The study was published in the journal Memory. It received funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

By Kyla Cathey, staff writer

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day