Why the Brain Prefers Paper
December 6, 2013 Environment
by Phil Riebel President, Two Sides U.S., Inc.
There is good news for those who enjoy paper and print! An article in the recent November 2013 issue of Scientific American magazine clearly supports what we already know: most people understand and remember text better when read on paper rather than a screen. According to the article, while e-readers and tablets are becoming more popular as these technologies improve, reading on paper has many advantages.
Since the 1980s, there have been more than 100 comparative studies in the Unites States, U.K. Taiwan, Sweden, Norway, France and Japan to explore differences of how people read and comprehend on paper versus screens. While technology has continued to improve, it still hasn’t reached the comprehension level of traditional paper users. What we have learned from these studies is that readers prefer real paper over its electronic counterpart and achieve high levels of comprehension and retention with paper.
In the article, researchers agree that “screen-based reading can dull comprehension because it is more mentally taxing and even physically tiring that reading on paper. E-ink reflects ambient light just like the ink on a paper book, but computer screens, smart phones and tablets shine light directly on people’s faces. Prolonged reading on glossy, self-illuminated screens can cause eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision. In an experiment by Erik Wastlund, then at Karlstad University in Sweden, people who took a reading comprehension test on a computer scored lower and reported higher levels of stress and tiredness than people who completed it on paper.”