How Conceptual Understanding and Retention Increases by Reading the Actual Books

The digital age has created a generation of people who view digital media as the norm and some even struggle to interact with the physical product and its paper origins. Those who have been born into the digital era may even expect to be able to shrink, enlarge or swipe a paper product. The question that is asked over and over again is whether the method of reading is important; as long as people continue to read.

The Latest Findings
Research has shown that those who read electronically may be missing out. Studies into this complex field suggest that the act of physically holding, and turning pages, is far superior when it comes to retaining the information being read. The brain actually responds differently to printed words as opposed to computer generated ones. It is believed that this is linked to the way the mind perceives physical items. It is not programmed to perceive symbols and responds much better to ‘things’. The act of holding a book and of flipping through the book allows the mind to build a mental picture of the contents and emulate the contents into a voyage. This is often shown by the ability to pick up a book, even if you read it a long time previously and instantly locate the passage you want.

Speed Reading
Before the electronic reader or even the internet became common place research suggested that reading from a screen was always slower than from a physical book. However it now appears that the average electronic reader finishes an article or book electronic far quicker than if reading its physical counterpart. Unfortunately this development of speed reading comes at a cost; less information is absorbed and less comprehension is gained. This is an important issue that affects anyone who reads; whether electronically or physically.

The development of electronic readers and the ability to read an e-book on a computer, tablet or even a phone has enabled people to read anywhere at any time. This has encouraged many people to start reading when they previously struggled with having the time to read. However, this convenience does not prevent people from mixing media’s. Research suggests that many of the people who enjoy reading electronically still prefer to read magazines and books when the opportunity arises.

Issues with Reading Electronically
The biggest issue is that the brain will intuitively map a text when reading from a paper source. This skill does not apply when dealing with electronic reading and the brain will not intuitively absorb the information being presented. The consequence of this is a lack of ability to learn or reflect on the subject matter being read. This issue arises from the necessity of the brain to see everything as a physical object. A page of writing will become a series of objects which create a landscape and allow the brain to absorb the information contained within it. Words on paper can be processed in such a way but this does not apply to the electronic book.
Much of the reason it does not apply to an electronic book is the inability to define the boundaries of any story. A paper book has defined corners, thickness and it is easy to see how far you have got into the story or even how far you have to go. It is this that creates the landscape in your mind and this that is not possible with an electronic book. An electronic book will not allow your brain to feel like it is a part of a bigger picture, you feel stationary in a moving world instead of crafting a journey through your surroundings.

A final point that is important to note is that, despite the ability to search an electronic book for certain words or phrases it is usually quicker to find the information you need from a paper book as it can be held in your hand and multiple sections quickly located and referenced. There’s no doubt that a conceptual retention and understanding increases the more paper books we read. Even though e-reading is also increasing in popularity, some people related better to a story when they hold an actual book in their hands.

By Paul Trevino and!

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