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Study finds reading information aloud to yourself improves memory

Friday, December 1, 2017

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

This research builds on previous studies by Professor MacLeod, Dr. 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.

The study was recently published in the journal Memory.

About the University of Waterloo

University of Waterloo is Canada’s top innovation university. With more than 36,000 students, we are home to the world's largest co-operative education system of its kind. Our unmatched entrepreneurial culture, combined with an intensive focus on research, powers one of the top innovation hubs in the world. Find out more at uwaterloo.ca

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Media contact

Matthew Grant
University of Waterloo
519-226-
www.uwaterloo.ca/news
@uWaterlooNews

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