Study finds reading information aloud to yourself improves memory

December 01, 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," 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."

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.

The study was recently published in the journal Memory.
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University of Waterloo

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