Here’s a post at Book Riot: THE NEUROSCIENCE OF AUDIOBOOKS
Our earliest experiences with stories are with their oral forms, both on an individual level and as a society. Many of us developed our love for stories from listening to the stories and anecdotes that we were told by our elders in our childhood. Human beings have been spinning tales and passing them down to later generations orally since long before the first words were put to paper. …
Recent research about the neuroscience of listening and reading has used functional MRI techniques to detect brain activity associated with these tasks. …
This is a short post, so a bit shallow itself, but there are several linked articles if you find the topic interesting.
Here is my favorite of the cited studies. This is quite funny:
Another branch of research seeks to compare brain activity between listening and reading. A recent study found that there are no discernible differences. This, however, might not be a very accurate generalization for the book vs. audiobook debate, since the participants in this study only read one word at a time, displayed at a pre-determined speed.…
Ha ha ha! What kind of design is that? I mean, this definition of “reading” and my definition of “reading” don’t seem to intersect much. If one word is displayed at a time, that’s, what, word comprehension? It’s not reading. But maybe they weren’t trying to compare listening to stories with reading stories, but rather listening to words versus reading words. Not sure what the point would be, but let me just take a look. … Nope. This is supposed to be a comparison of listening versus reading narrative stories. Let me look at the actual methodology … The words of each story were presented one-by-one at the center of the screen using a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) procedure… During reading, each word was presented for a duration precisely equal to the duration of that word in the spoken story.
Well, having read the entire methods section, this strikes me as an incredibly convoluted design meant to control for unimportant things at the cost of losing the comparison between the actual experience of listening to a story versus the actual experience of reading a story. Now, granted, this is a rapid glance at the article. I haven’t read through their actual discussion of this topic, because I don’t really care about their conclusions, I was just intrigued by their methodology. This may not be quite fair, but I’m thinking this is a fantastic example of researchers who have gotten distracted by technique to the extent they have failed to realize their study does not and cannot apply to anything in the real world.
I’m still chuckling over this design, but I do want to go back to the Book Riot post long enough to point out that the post does say this particular study may not be relevant. I sure agree. I wouldn’t have cited it at all.
I’ve been listening to podcasts more than audiobooks lately, but the TUYO audiobook should be finished pretty soon, so I’m hoping quite a lot of people are really into audiobooks. Without doing any sort of study, do those of you who listen to audiobooks find the experience extremely similar to reading a book, fairly similar, or rather different?
I find it different in a few important ways:
- I like many slow-paced books, but a slow pace will kill an audiobook for me. I just get bored. I have not tried increasing the reading speed because I didn’t realize that was possible until pretty recently, so maybe I should try that and see if it makes a difference.
2. Writing flaws are magnified — I mean any awkwardness with sentence construction or word choice — because of the slower pace, I think, but this could be intrinsic to listening, I’m not sure.
3. I miss being able to flip back and forth and easily re-read (re-listen) to favorite bits.
But when walking three energetic young dogs on flexi-leads, it sure is easier to listen to something than read something.