Read A Physical Book When You Really Need To Remember Something

Ereaders are a handy way to carry a library around with you at all times, but an article in Time magazine suggest that ebooks might not hold the spatial cues that help you remember the text you read. The reasoning is that a physical book provides location context to what you read.

Photo by Alexandre Normand.

You have a two-page spread, a graphic or a visual difference between the pages. All these factors help you remember the text more easily. When you try to recall that information later, it’s easier when you have a physical reference point to compare the memory to. Time explains:

Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from “remembering” to “knowing”. The more associations a particular memory can trigger, the more easily it tends to be recalled. Consequently, seemingly irrelevant factors like remembering whether you read something at the top or the bottom of page — or whether it was on the right or left hand side of a two-page spread or near a graphic — can help cement material in mind.

This doesn’t mean you can’t remember what you read on a tablet, phone or computer. It just means that it might take repeated reading and a little more effort to remember. The studies mentioned in the article are small and the research is still in its infancy, but several researchers suggest that a physical book may be best when you really need to remember the contents. How about you? Have you found it difficult to remember what you read in an ebook?

Do E-Books Make it Harder to Remember What You Just Read? [Time]

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