Take that, e-readers! Science has proved that reading the old-fashioned way is better for your brain, reduces stress, and makes you more empathetic. While e-readers attempt to replicate the look of a book and the sensation of turning pages, according to researcher Anne Mangen “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.” Mangen led a study of reading habits that showed that people who read a story on a Kindle were significantly worse at remembering plot details and the order of events, reports mic.com.
Because our brains evolved to understand letters, and to understand text as seen in a linear way, Mangen hypothesizes that we absorb more through traditional reading because of the “very gradual unfolding of paper as you progress through a story is some kind of sensory offload, supporting the visual sense of progress when you’re reading.” In addition, reading on computer screens tends to be superficial: most of us read text on a screen in an “F” pattern that reduces our comprehension. Recognizing the need for better comprehension is one of the factors in the development of the slow reading movement, which aims to help the brain “reengage with linear reading.” Reading the old-fashioned way also makes you empathize more: “one study discovered that individuals who read an upsetting short story on an iPad were less empathetic and experienced less transportation and immersion than those who read on paper.”