Study finds reading information aloud to yourself improves memory

December 1, 2017
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

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 , 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 . 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 benefit of speech stems from it being personal and self-referential.

The study was recently published in the journal Memory.

Explore further: Illusions influence our predictions about how well we'll remember in the future

Related Stories

Illusions influence our predictions about how well we'll remember in the future

June 6, 2017
Every day we make decisions based on how we think our memory works. A student decides how long to study for an exam. A shopper decides whether or not to make a grocery list. An FBI director decides whether to write the contents ...

Simple technique may help older adults better remember written information

May 6, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—University of Florida researchers have advice for older adults who need to remember detailed written information: Don't just read it, tell someone about it.

Alcohol boosts recall of earlier learning

July 24, 2017
Drinking alcohol improves memory for information learned before the drinking episode began, new research suggests.

Repeating aloud to another person boosts recall

October 6, 2015
Repeating aloud boosts verbal memory, especially when you do it while addressing another person, says Professor Victor Boucher of the University of Montreal's Department of Linguistics and Translation. His findings are the ...

Need to remember something? Better draw it, study finds

April 21, 2016
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have found that drawing pictures of information that needs to be remembered is a strong and reliable strategy to enhance memory.

Research unlocks clues to language-based learning in children

December 12, 2016
According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), one in five individuals are impacted by language-based learning disabilities—one of the most common being dyslexia, which involves difficulty in reading ...

Recommended for you

Suicidal thoughts rapidly reduced with ketamine, finds study

December 14, 2017
Ketamine was significantly more effective than a commonly used sedative in reducing suicidal thoughts in depressed patients, according to researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). They also found that ketamine's ...

Do bullies have more sex?

December 14, 2017
Adolescents who are willing to exploit others for personal gain are more likely to bully and have sex than those who score higher on a measure of honesty and humility. This is according to a study in Springer's journal Evolutionary ...

Children's screen-time guidelines too restrictive, according to new research

December 14, 2017
Digital screen use is a staple of contemporary life for adults and children, whether they are browsing on laptops and smartphones, or watching TV. Paediatricians and scientists have long expressed concerns about the impact ...

Eating together as a family helps children feel better, physically and mentally

December 14, 2017
Children who routinely eat their meals together with their family are more likely to experience long-term physical and mental health benefits, a new Canadian study shows.

The iceberg model of self-harm

December 14, 2017
Researchers have created a model of self-harm that shows high levels of the problem in the community, especially in young girls, and the need for school-based prevention measures.

Anti-stress compound reduces obesity and diabetes

December 13, 2017
For the first time, scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich could prove that a stress protein found in muscle has a diabetes promoting effect. This finding could pave the way to a completely new treatment ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4 / 5 (2) Dec 01, 2017
Why is this news? I was taught this in my English class many, many years ago.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2017
Someone actually felt the need to do a study on this? It's been known for a long time that verbalizing information helps cement it into one's memory. Why the study? In fact, i'm willing to bet it was soemthing that had been studied decades ago and has simply been done again because it's has either been forgotten (the original study) or has been done to pad Noah Forrin's resume.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 01, 2017
There are no statistics in this article. Reading aloud requires time and energy. So there is an investment. What is the payoff? 1% improvement? .01%?

The improvement may be significant in purely statistical terms. But that is not enough. There has to be a positive return on investment in order for someone to adopt this strategy.

This and almost every social science type article I read here suffers from this same problem.
not rated yet Dec 03, 2017
A benefit for the swindler "researcher" in a population largely unaware of anything that happened before a few minutes ago.
The fact is, reading text aloud to the entire class is a common practice in legitimate grade schools, not the social clubs with computers and smartphones that modern "grade schools" are. That was treated as part and parcel of "quaint" methods that were dispensed with wholly by the Democratic Party controlled "education" system not because they didn't work but because people who had been around before what came to be called the "counter culture" utilized it and the "counter culture" automatically defined anything and everything they did as "wrong". For those tempted or trained to think that only the modern era did anything, things like that peasant women had been carrying out a form of inoculation door to door for years before Edward Jenner "discovered" "vaccination" are unthinkable.
not rated yet Dec 04, 2017
In China since 2000+ years ago, students have been asked to do 'morning reading aloud' every morning. Reading books aloud, particularly in the early moring time (6:00-8:00 am), is the most efficient way of establishing a long term memory. This period of time corresponds to the "refreshing phase" in our internal circadian rythm.
not rated yet Dec 04, 2017
@BobSage: I'm glad you want to know the details. But for that, you need to gain access to the original paper itself. Can't expect a synopsis to provide all the statistics. Personally, I appreciate a compilation of "teasers" to keep me informed on a broad front. I can choose which to drill down into. Peace!
not rated yet Dec 09, 2017
Noah D. Forrin, Colin M. MacLeod. This time it's personal: the memory benefit of hearing oneself.
Memory, 2017; 1
DOI: 10.1080/09658211.2017.1383434


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.