Reading Aloud May Boost Memory

You are more likely to remember something if you read it out loud, according to new research.

The new study from researchers at the University of Waterloo in Canada found that speaking text aloud helps to get words into long-term memory.

Dubbed the “production effect,” the dual action of speaking and hearing oneself has the most beneficial impact on memory, according to researchers.

“This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement,” said Dr. Colin M. MacLeod, a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Waterloo, who co-authored the study with post-doctoral fellow Dr. 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. And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory.”

The study also shows that part of the memory benefit of speech stems from it being personal and self-referential, the researchers explained.

The new research builds on previous studies by researchers at the university that measure the production effect of activities, such as writing and typing words, in enhancing overall memory retention.

The study was published in the journal Memory.

Source: University of Waterloo