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Technology may be ruining our ability to read, according to neuroscientist

We've learned to skim instead of engaging and understanding what we read

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If you’re a reader who finds yourself struggling to read complex literature, you may not be alone.

Recently, Maryanna Wolf, a University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) neuroscientist and literature lover, sat down with The Verge to discuss her book, Reader, Come Home.

The book examines the “reading brain in the digital world,” as the subtitle states.

Wolf explains how the brain’s circuitry is like plastic. The circuits of connections build on each other as you read. The more you read, the easier it becomes to have deep, analytical and critical thoughts about the content you read.

The problem technology introduces is it changes how we read. With technology, we tend to read simple, less complex text. Additionally, we tend to skim, reading quickly without analysis.

According to Wolf, digital content rewards fast processing instead of the slow processing that builds important, critical and analytical connections.

Furthermore, Wolf says this skimming bleeds over into other aspects of reading. People start to skim everything they read.

While Wolf admits that more research needs to be done before anything concrete can be shared, she did say that for herself, it took two weeks of focused reading to return to her “old reading self.”

Furthermore, Wolf proposes a “bi-literate” brain. In other words, we should be teaching ourselves and our children to evaluate what we’re reading. The goal is to preserve that deep reading ability and call it up at will.

Wolf also suggests that skimming has lead to some broader societal problems. Fake news, for example, can be attributed to our tendency to skim, instead of focusing on and analyzing what we read.

Source: The Verge

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