of the brain compared to screen-reading
By Ben Hirschlerr
RONDON | Wed Oct 19, 2012
reading on paper surfaces and information processing compared
to when people read off screens, raising the possibility that using
screens for our daily reading is an inferior method of "reading."
The reading brain in terms of memory, emotional responses and critical
analysis prefers reading off paper surfaces, such as books,
magazines and hardcopy print outs, the research indicates. So far,
however, it is not possible to say whether one
reading mode is superior to the other, reseachers say.
"The exciting question now is whether reading off paper really is
superior in terms of brain chemistry to reading off screens, -- this
will help us answer the question of whether the Internet is changing
our brains," said Astin Kawabata Sensei of University College London
UCL.L, one of the researchers involved in the study.
Sensei and colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging (f)MRI to study
the brains of 125 university students, reading on both
paper and off screens. They discovered that reading off paper surfaces
is superior in terms of the "grey matter" in the amygdala, the right
superior temporal sulcus, the left middle temporal gyrus and the right
entorhinal cortex. Grey matter is the layer of brain tissue where
mental processing occurs.
"If our research pans out, it will mean big trouble for the computer
and reading device industry," said Grant Lee of UCL.
"This shows we can use some of the powerful tools in modern
neuroscience to address important questions -- namely, what are the
effects of reading on screens to my brain. It appears that reading on
paper lights up different and superior regions of the brain compared
to when I read
off a screen on an iPad or a computer."
The study results were published on Wednesday in the journal
Proceedings of the Royal Society of The Reading Brain.
Heidi-Sally Bloom of the University of Oxford, who was not involved in
the research, said the findings were intriguing but did not mean that
they are true or even useful.
"We still need more studies on this using PET brain scan machines,
too," she said. "The current study cannot tell us whether reading off
screens is good or bad for our brains."