Reading visually creates memory links in the brain. We remember some of the words that we have seen, though there are gaps. If we read aloud as we are reading visually, this creates an additional auditory link in our memory. We remember the sound of the words we read aloud. With seniors, we are constantly looking at ways to exercise and strengthen the memory pathways in the brain. Reading aloud is a great way to do that, at any age. The effect of reading aloud on memory is called “The Production Effect.”
Art Markman, Ph.D. writes in his blog in Psychology Today about the production effect, which explains exactly why reading out loud causes us to remember better. Specifically referring to a study in which learners were given a list and asked to read half of it out loud and half of it silently, the learners were able to remember the part of the list they read out loud a lot better than the part of the list they read silently. He adds that while there are memory pathways of visually seeing the words and also the auditory pathways of hearing the words, there is also a memory link to the actual production of the word, hence the production effect. Especially if the word or content is different, it makes it easier to remember.
Another benefit of reading aloud is that it can involve the entire body. For seniors that may be more sedentary than younger folks, incorporating more movement into daily activities is a real benefit. While reading aloud we may use hand gestures, facial expressions, body movement – all to enhance and more accurately deliver the message and meaning of the words. This not only provides a richer experience for the listener and the speaker but incorporates exercise into the reading.
When was the last time you read something aloud? If you are a senior or a caregiver for a senior, consider incorporating some reading aloud into your daily or weekly activities. See for yourself if it enhances your memory and recall and have some fun doing it!
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