Study finds reading information aloud to yourself improves memory

December 1, 2017, University of Waterloo
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

Study suggests biological basis for depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances in older adults

October 15, 2018
UC San Francisco researchers, in collaboration with the unique Brazilian Biobank for Aging Studies (BBAS) at the University of São Paulo, have shown that the earliest stages of the brain degeneration associated with Alzheimer's ...

Early changes to synapse gene regulation may cause Alzheimer's disease

October 15, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, involving memory loss and a reduction in cognitive abilities. Patients with AD develop multiple abnormal protein structures in their brains that are thought to ...

Clues that suggest people are lying may be deceptive, study shows

October 12, 2018
The verbal and physical signs of lying are harder to detect than people believe, a study suggests.

How to avoid raising a materialistic child

October 12, 2018
If you're a parent, you may be concerned that materialism among children has been on the rise. According to research, materialism has been linked to a variety of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression, as ...

The long-term effects of maternal high-fat diets

October 12, 2018
If a mother eats a high-fat diet, this can have a negative effect on the health of her offspring—right down to her great-grandchildren. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers at ETH Zurich from a study with mice.

Study finds orgasm face and pain face are not the same

October 11, 2018
A team of researchers from the UK and Spain has found evidence showing that contrary to popular belief, the orgasm face is not the same as the pain face. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of ...


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.