Thursday, April 24, 2014

Can Speed Reading Apps Make You Dumb


Gone are the days when people used to sit near the window sill, breathing in fresh air, sipping that cup of steaming hot coffee and become immersed in the imaginary world of the hard bound novel, in their hands. Nowadays, speed reading apps have become the norm, but it poses its own set of risks.

What is a speed reading app?

This app may help you to read at staggeringly high speeds, say 600 or 1000 words per minute. Scientists suppose that they beat the restrictions imposed by our visual system.

How do we process information at such high speeds?

To understand this scientists did a research to find out how we intake information about the text. The brain controls how our eyes move through the text. It ensures we get the right information at the right time.

Earlier studies have said that readers stop or pause to read, moving their eyes back to understand the essence of the subject they are reading.

The research
40 college students participated in the study. The students read the sentences displayed on computer screens. Sometimes the sentences were shown normally. At other times sentences were masked with xxxx as soon as the students moved their eyes away from that word. So that they could not reread the word.

Researchers found out students showed impaired comprehension for the masked sentences because they were not able to reread. Usually we pause when we fail to understand something and fill in the gap by going back again.

What do experts say about speed reading app?

Annie Murphy, Paul writes in The Weekly Wonk that a reader who is an expert in the subject will make accurate predictions of what upcoming paras will contain. So he reads quickly while filling in his already well drawn mental model.


On the other hand, a new reader faces surprises at every turn in the text. So he takes the slow and steady approach to construct his mental model.

Take away

Comparing the expert’s view with that of the research we can conclude that speed reading apps can make you dumb. How about taking your own sweet time, relish, cherish and enjoy what you read in the old fashioned way?

Take good care,
Swarnam

Photo by stock images