Michael Kozlowski sums up two of the more interesting features in the new Kindle devices: Immersion Reading and Whispersync for Voice. Immersion Reading synchronizes your ebook with your audiobook. This prompted some browsing to find out what science has to say about simultaneous visual and aural reading. What can the physiology, neuropsychology and sociology of reading tell us about ourselves?
Quite a bit about the location in the brain of a “supramodal language system,” but nothing easily found to tell us whether the reading experience is better, worse or the same if we read silently to ourselves while being read to.
Will cognitive scientists be lining up to recruit the new Kindle Fire purchasers to study the effects of reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” visually and aurally at the same time? A possibly new degree of sensory overload to be discovered?
In 1999, Microsoft employed a canny Scot (is there another kind?), named Bill Hill, to study the experience of reading and provide feedback for its development of the Microsoft Reader platform, and from that came a small book called The Magic of Reading. Nothing like a peek into the past to clarify the present or kindle an interest in typography.
Ten years on from Bill Hill’s book there is Stanislas Dehaene’s Reading in the Brain for those with a burning interest in cognitive science. No tabula rasa here.
Before Hill or Dehaene, Walter J. Ong wrote, “More than any other single invention, writing has transformed human consciousness.” (Orality and Literacy, p.76). Perhaps that should have been “reading and writing.”
Will the rejoining of silent and aural reading fire the next transformation?
For further reading (silently or aloud):
Vinall-Cox, Joan. Moving From Paper to E-Book Reading. eLearn Magazine. March 2012. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
Rollins, H.A. Jr., Hendricks, R. Processing of words presented simultaneously to eye and ear. J. Exp. Psychol. Hum. Percept. Perform. 1980 Feb; 6(1): 99-109. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
British Association for the Advancement of Science (2007, September 11). Reading Process Is Surprisingly Different Than Previously Thought, Technology Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 8, 2012.