Evolution Hasn't Prepared Us for This: Our Brain Impacted by Screen Reading

Published by Redbran - Friday, February 16, 2024 - Other Languages: FR, DE, ES, PT
Source: Trends in Cognitive Sciences

A team from Macquarie University, including Professor Erik Reichle and Dr. Lili Yu, has delved into the impact of screen reading as opposed to traditional paper reading. Their findings shed new light on the challenges our brains must overcome in the modern world and how technology alters our information absorption and retention capacities.


Reading, though a late addition in the timeline of human evolution, involves a series of complex mental processes. The development of language, initially oral, did not prepare our brain for reading, a skill that requires years of practice to master. In this context, the shift towards digital reading presents additional challenges.

Studies suggest that reading on a screen diminishes our ability to understand and remember the text compared to paper reading, a phenomenon known as the screen inferiority effect.

This decreased comprehension seems to be influenced by various factors, such as the type of text being read, the time available for reading, and the reader's reading skills. Moreover, screen reading is often accompanied by built-in distractions, such as notifications or animated advertisements, which demand our attention and reduce our ability to focus on the text.

To counter the effects of digital reading and enhance our concentration, researchers recommend a gradual return to paper reading. This practice involves selecting an engaging book, placing oneself in an environment conducive to reading, and minimizing distractions. Rebuilding our concentration ability on printed texts is a gradual process, but essential for our intellectual development.

A deep understanding of these phenomena is crucial, not just for the current adults but also for future generations raised with screens. The implications for learning, both online and in classrooms, are significant, especially for less experienced readers who are most affected by the screen inferiority effect. As we advance into the digital age, understanding and adapting to these changes becomes vital to preserve our ability to learn and focus effectively.
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