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Why do I remember something better if I read it out loud? © Getty Images

Why do I remember something better if I read it out loud?

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Next time you're narrating the newspaper to yourself on the bus, rest assured that all the strange looks are worth it.

Asked by: Jonathan Warton, Herefordshire


There are at least two possibilities – one is that it helps to hear the information in your own voice, the other is that there’s something memorable about the act of speaking the words. A clever study put these two explanations to the test recently. It compared participants reading words aloud to listening to earlier recordings of themselves saying words, using a memory test.

The findings suggested that both the act of speaking, and hearing oneself, assist memory – the former because it’s a more active, involved process than silent reading, and the latter because hearing oneself speak makes the information more personally salient.


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Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.


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