Speed reading is not magic

Stop talking to yourself when you speed read

Some readers need to hear every word with their inner voice, this limits reading speed. In such cases, auditory brain areas pace reading. This is called the sound barrier. Functional images of the brain show that a concrete word like 'book' preferentially activates visual areas while an abstract word like 'efficiency' is mainly processed by auditory areas, so words do not always require sound to produce meaning. Not faced with this sound barrier and without special training deaf people often read above 1000 wpm.

Don't Read Aloud to Yourself. Generally, reading aloud to yourself does not help you study more effectively. If you move your lips while you read, you're not reading efficiently. If you read aloud or move your lips while you're reading, you are reading slowly, so stop moving your lips. Try putting a finger over your lips. Your finger will remind you not to move your lips. Make an effort to read faster and retain more - after a while, you'll be surprised how little effort it will take.

Getting back to reading and how we learn, one of the biggest reasons why we learned to read incredibly slowly in the first place is that as a child in school, we learned to read by sounding out the words. When you pronounce the words you have to read with your tongue. And you know our tongue can only pronounce about 200 to 400 words a minute. According to the 'latest' research, our memory is not stored in our tongue.

People talk to themselves in 2 ways, by:

  • Vocalizing, which is the actual moving of your lips as you read,
  • Subvocalizing, which is talking to yourself in your head as you silently read.

Both of these will slow you down to the point at which you find that you can't read any faster than you can speak. Speech is a relatively slow activity; for most, the average speed is about 250 WPM (words per minute).

Reading should be an activity, which involves only the eyes and the brain. Vocalization ties reading to actual speaking. Try to think of reading as if you were looking at a landscape, a panorama of ideas, rather than looking at the rocks at your feet.

 

Moving lips is rare today

Moving lips is rare today, but it is a form of subvocalising. The first proof occurred at UCLA in the 1960s. The scientist took students and with permission, placed EMG (Electromyography) connections on the outside of their vocal cords. It registered every word as they read silently.

Today scientists use ‘fMRIs’ (functional Magnetic Resonance Imagery) scans, and see all the ‘speech’ brain structures light-up with blood-flow, a sign of activity, when students and adults read “silently”.

NASA on March 17, 2004, released a report that for the first-time in scientific research, they had monitored at-a-distance, human “subvocalization”. The title was: NASA Develops System To Computerize Silent, ‘Subvocal Speech’. Not only does subvocalization exist, soon spies will be reading what you are thinking. Civil libertarians who never heard of subvocalising will be ready to march to Washington, D.C.

 

What is speed reading.

Speed reading techniques

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