Reading electronic books is no more effortful for the brain than reading traditional paper books. To the contrary: Older people actually benefit from reading from a tablet PC. This is the conclusion reached by a study of reading performance among participants from different age groups that was undertaken under by researchers from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany in collaboration with the universities of Göttingen and Marburg.
"There is a widely-held belief that it is more difficult to read from a digital device and that people retain less of what they read in this case," explains Dr. Franziska Kretzschmar of the Department of English and Linguistics at Mainz University. "Our study has shown that older people can actually read better from tablet PCs, likely because of the higher visual contrast."
Electronic books have become ever more popular in recent years, particularly in English-speaking countries, where the sales figures for e-books are outstripping those for conventional printed books. German readers are somewhat more skeptical when it comes to digital texts. Sales of e-books in Germany made up only about one percent of all book sales in 2011 and, when asked about their favorite reading medium, most Germans still tend to vote in favor of printed books rather than e-books. This may, in part, be attributable to a general distrust of new technologies.
The 56 test participants who took part in the study found reading on paper to be more pleasant and claimed that it was easier than reading on digital devices. However, recordings made during the study showed that this view, shared equally by both the younger and older participants, did not correlate with analyses of eye movements and brain wave patterns. Participants in the age range of 66 to 77 years showed faster reading speeds and less brain activity when reading from a tablet PC compared with a printed book and also when compared with an e-ink reader, such as the Kindle. "The cognitive effort required by older to read from a tablet PC was less than that required to read from an e-ink reader or paper pages. This is clearly confirmed by our observations of their eye movements while reading and the results of simultaneous measurements of brain activity," said Kretzschmar. This reduction of cognitive and neural effort may be attributable to the better contrast provided by the background lighting on a tablet computer, which aids letter and word recognition and has an impact even on the highest levels of language processing. However, there was no comparable effect among younger participants in the age range of 21 to 34 years. The results for all three reading media were identical in this cohort. Importantly, regardless of whether the participants were young or old, reading comprehension was the same for all three media in the two groups.
The findings thus demonstrate that people's subjective perception of reading on digital devices does not coincide with the actual cognitive and neuronal effort that needs to be invested in information processing while reading from them, as the researchers from Mainz, Göttingen, and Marburg conclude in an article published in PLOS ONE. The existence of this subjective preference for paper texts may be attributable, at least in part, to the high status afforded to traditional, printed books as part of our cultural heritage.Publication:
Petra Giegerich | idw
Tile Based DASH Streaming for Virtual Reality with HEVC from Fraunhofer HHI
03.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik Heinrich-Hertz-Institut
Product placement: Only brands placed very prominently benefit from 3D technology
07.07.2016 | Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences