Listening Is Reading: The New Research

Written by Francisca Goldsmith on Thursday, August 29, 2019


As the new school year swings into opening days, and you find yourself with a nicely filled shelf of new audiobook listens, we thought we'd call your attention to recent research about the benefits of listening. These benefits include ones of mental and physical health, academic engagement, and pure relaxation and wonder-feeding.


Ten days ago, The Telegraphpublished a news story about the University of California Berkeley's study of audiobook reading, headlining the story with "End of audiobook snobbery as scientists find reading and listening activate the same Parts of the brain."  If you want to consider the research by Dr Fatma Deniz and her team directly, you can read "The representation of semantic information across human cerebral cortex during listening versus reading is invariant to stimulus modality" in The Journal of Neuroscience

In the same week, The Wall Street Journalpublished an opinion piece by Daryl Austin discussing why "I'd Rather Read with My Ears."  A significant point he makes here is the fact that texts we often are assigned to read with our eyes were actually intended by their authors for our ears.

Writing for "The Observer" section of The Guardian, again during the same week, Nosheen Iqbal calls attention to binge listening and the qualities of "slow media." "Reader, I downloaded him" packs a fair amount of industry information up front but if you work your way through to the ending section of the article, you'll find some engaging and instructive information from Canadian psychology professor Dr. Javid Sadr (University of Lethbridge, Alberta), who "believes there are considerable benefits to epic audio binges:"

It takes top-down control to direct and hold your attention on this one thing. Mastering and controlling your environment when it’s so filled with stimulation makes the rest of the world quieter, less bright and less noisy. The neural response to this, where you’re immersed and focused, ultimately feels good.

Yes, audiobooks are about access, enjoyment, and time-saving or time-filling. They pack a powerful punch of more measurable benefits, too. Happy listening all year!

Category : audiobooks

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