Is listening to a book as good as reading it?

By Shoaib Khan   Posted on January-18-2023   121


Is listening to a book as good as reading it?

It’s also important to point out that there are differences between reading or listening for pleasure versus learning. Below are some examples:

Audiobooks vs Physical Books:

Do we comprehend more information if we physically read a book compared to listening to the same material?

Remember when audiobooks hit the market years ago? Futurists suggested listening would eclipse reading as our preferred learning method. It looks like books are still with us and will be for the foreseeable future.

Having access to one version gives us options when the other isn’t convenient or available. Reading a book or magazine while walking in the park or on a treadmill is often challenging. That’s when using our earbuds to listen to audiobooks or podcasts is a better method.  

One distinction between listening to an audiobook and reading the same material is how our brains process the information. 

Both activate different parts of the brain. However, University of California psychology professor Matthew Traxler found that the “mental machinery”  remains the same, irrespective of whether we heard or read the material. 

Another study assigned adult volunteers to one of three groups. The first listened to excerpts of a story from World War II. A second group read the same material on an e-reader, while the third group simultaneously employed both methods. The results showed little difference in the test scores regardless of the method used. 

Both experts agreed that either listening or reading is acceptable for lighter topics typically found in entertainment or news magazines and websites. We retain more information for more complex subjects if we put more effort into the process, such as reading weighty topics.
Reading VS listening: The Science:

There are some differences in how our brain processes information gathered through visual or auditory methods. Scientists and educators have been grappling with whether individuals develop a learning preference at an early age. If so, does being exposed to another way impede their ability to learn? 

Recent studies show that while individuals may develop a preference for reading or hearing material, most can learn by either method. An academic study published in 2018 states that students are capable of learning through both reading and listening. Indiana University Professor Polly Husmann debunks the issue that students primarily learn by the time they enter college by only one method. 

Husmann and her team developed a questionnaire designed to reveal a student’s preference for learning. What they also uncovered is the method a student used for learning is often not their preferred method. When a student did incorporate another way, there was little to no difference in test scores.  

How Does Listening & Reading Impact Brain Activity:

University of California at Berkeley neuroscientists studied MRI brain scans of individuals and confirmed that the human brain is equally stimulated by both reading and listening.

Participants read scripts from a podcast episode and were shown one word at a time to duplicate how the brain absorbs auditory material. Using previous research, they were able to code each word and the brain’s areas impacted. Researchers then created maps to evaluate which parts of the brain are stimulated by certain words. The results showed no notable differences between listening and reading. 

Listening to a book can be a good way to consume the content, but it may not be the same as reading it. Some people prefer to read a book because they can go at their own pace and make notes or highlight important parts. Others prefer to listen to a book because it allows them to multitask or because they have difficulty reading. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for the individual.

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It’s also important to point out that there are differences between reading or listening for pleasure versus learning. Below are some examples:

By Shoaib Khan    18-Jan-2023 Views  121

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