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People Who Read Out Loud Are Less Forgetful, Study Finds

Being a full-time adult takes a toll on the ol’ memory bank. Don’t worry, it’s not that you’re getting old. We know you’re just busy remembering when the electric bill is due and which kid goes where on Tuesdays, in addition to the grocery list, your family responsibilities, and whatever it was that your husband asked you this morning. You’re a one-woman show, and we totally get that. Which is why we’re excited to share with you a new science-backed memory trick that really works.

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According to a new study published in the journal Memory, reading out loud (also known as the production effect) is the best way to remember things. While the study only looked at 95 participants, researchers found that when active elements — like speaking — were added to a word, the word became more distinct in study participants’ long-term memory.

Throughout the study, researchers tested four different methods for learning written information, including reading to oneself, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud in real time. Out of the four methods, reading aloud topped the list.

“When we consider the practical applications of this research, I think of seniors who are advised to do puzzles and crosswords to help strengthen their memory,” study co-author Colin M. MacLeod said in a statement. “This study suggests that the idea of action or activity also improves memory. And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory.”

This isn’t the first time scientists have tried to prove that reading aloud improves memory. In 2010, University of Texas at Austin professor Art Markman noted that reading out loud helps us remember things better because we have a natural ability to sense when something is different, including a word that’s spoken versus a word that’s read silently. According to professor Markman, whenever we speak, our mind is translating words into speech, which means our brains not only have knowledge of reading said word, but of producing and hearing the word as well — making it more distinct than the words we read silently.

So, how can you incorporate this into your everyday life? Start reading your grocery list out loud before you leave the house or giving your husband and kids gentle verbal reminders that the casserole needs to be out of the oven by 7 p.m. tonight. Sure, you may feel silly doing it — and your family may look at you strangely — but it’ll be worth it when you’re able to remember small details and have your day run more smoothly. Give it a try!

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