Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Reading, For Your Brain?

Previously I looked at what you read from, how fast you read, and the effects they had on cognitive abilities and learning. However, what I didn’t talk about was how reading in general affects you.

Most people would have had to read numerous books during primary and secondary school, and even in university, since there’s pre readings to do before lectures. So would doing these pre readings actually help you learn better?



A few experiments have been done related to seeing how children do at language and memory related tasks, based on whether those children read or not in general. One [3] was done to see the implications to education, and found that the children who were readers were better at recalling things they had read, and had an easier time with language tasks such as defining words. While non readers, who had the material read out to them, were better with the pronunciation of words, but not as good at remembering them or identifying them.

So pre readings are important it seems for being able to remember what you need to, compared to just listening to lectures.

Another experiment [2] was done to test the same thing, and found that children who read or didn’t read both were good at understanding the words presented to them, but the readers were significantly better at using those words and forming them into sentences correctly, forming almost double compared to those who didn’t read.

These suggest more developed abilities and comprehension related to written language if reading does take place for the child, along with better memory, compared to non readers.


So reading is beneficial, but can it be detrimental?

Most people believe that it can’t be detrimental since it is stimulating your brain. Common excuses for not reading are that it’s boring or time consuming, not that it’s not helpful.

One possible negative is with how you read. If a child reads without any help, it’s possible for them to simply guess what a word means, and start associating it with the wrong thing. This could affect their overall comprehension and linguistic knowledge, which is bad. But this can be avoided by making sure the child is reading a book that matches their skill, and by answering/asking any questions about what it means.

Overall, reading appears to help with language development, comprehension and memory. So what could be better than spending your time reading. So if you wish to help your memory of the class topics, perhaps pre readings should be done.




[1] Cunningham, A. E & Stonovich, K. E 1998, What Reading Does for the Mind, American Educator, Vol. 22,  No. 1-2, pp. 8-15, retrieved 28.4.16, <>
[2] Hartlep, K. L & Dolan, E 1980, A Comparison of Readers Versus Non-Readers in a Cognitive Synthesis Task, Journal of Literacy Research, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 237-241, DOI:10.1080/10862968009547375
[3] Mousinho, R & Correa, J 2009, Linguistic and Cognitive Skills in Readers and Nonreaders, Pro Fono, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 113-8, retrieved 28.4.16, <>

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One comment on “Reading, For Your Brain?

  1. rammerjammerok
    May 27, 2016

    Interestingly done! as an avid reader myself i am interested in the way you explored the way reading affects memory and understanding. Your perspective regarding a child’s word association has got me intrigued, i as a kid read books without assistance and i made associations through images, context and word associations rather then just mentored reading.Yes skill level of the books mattered but for me independent learning made me more curious to learn. I don’t see it as necessarily being a negative thing as it allowed the skills for me to be a independent learner.


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This entry was posted on April 29, 2016 by in Burwood - Friday 11am and tagged .

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