If you use an e-reader, the books, magazines and newspapers you read may not be as memorable as the paper versions. Because according to a study in the journal Ergonomics, we remember less when we read from a screen. We also have a harder time comprehending what we read. Here’s why:
First of all, reading from a screen requires more activity in our brain’s visual cortex. That means there’s less energy available for the parts of the brain that process and store information and make memories. Scientists also believe that content on e-readers is less memorable because we associate paper books with learning. While we associate screens with fun, entertainment and social activities, like texting, games and movies. So, we’re more likely to concentrate and retain information from a printed page.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should trash your Kindle. Dr. Jan Noyes is a psychologist who studies how people interact with technology. And she says, if you’re studying, the best e-readers to use are the more basic ones with a black and white display, that don’t emit light. They use “e-paper” graphics that mimic the printed page. That’s easier on our visual cortex.
But Dr. Noyes also points out that the comprehension gap between paper books and e readers is getting narrower every year. Because we’re getting more practice getting content from the electronic page. In fact, as e-readers become the standard for getting news and novels, there could be a time when the average person finds holding heavy books and turning pages so distracting that it’ll be harder for them to learn from a book.