Challenging The Superiority Of The Printed Page

A study published this week that compared paper with tablets and e-readers showed negligible differences in reading comprehension. For older subjects, tablets beat out the other two media in terms of providing a faster and easier reading experience.

What's the Latest Development?


A study out from -- of all places -- Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz suggests that contrary to assumptions, reading text on paper may not be inherently better or easier than reading text on an electronic device. The study involved two groups of people, one young (ages 21-34) and one old (ages 60-77), reading from a printed page, an e-reader, and a tablet. Using eye-tracking technology and EEG sensors, the researchers discovered that there was no real difference in comprehension across the three media in either group, and that for the younger readers, there was no difference in reading speed or effort. Most surprisingly, for the older group, speed and effort improved when they read from a tablet.

What's the Big Idea?

Prior to the study, both groups of subjects said they overwhelmingly preferred reading from paper to reading from electronic devices, a response that lead author Franziska Kretzschmar says reflects "a prejudice that people hold against digital media in Germany." However, the results demonstrate that "negative subjective assessments of readability for e-books and other digital texts are not a reflection of real-time information processing demands." The study's findings appeared this week in the online journal PLOS ONE.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at Discovery News

Related Articles

The "catch" to being on the keto diet

While short-term results are positive, there is mounting evidence against staying in ketosis for too long.

Brendan Hoffman / Getty
Surprising Science
  • Recent studies showed volunteers lost equal or more weight on high-carb, calorie-restricted diets than low-carb, calorie restricted diets.
  • There might be positive benefits to short-term usage of a ketogenic diet.
  • One dietician warns that the ketogenic diet could put diabetics at risk for diabetic ketoacidosis.
Keep reading Show less

Why are Americans so bad at math?

Research shows that the way math is taught in schools and how its conceptualized as a subject is severely impairing American student's ability to learn and understand the material.

One derivative coming right up... (Photo: Getty Images)
Technology & Innovation
  • Americans continually score either in the mid- or bottom-tier when it comes to math and science compared to their international peers.
  • Students have a fundamental misunderstanding of what math is and what it can do. By viewing it as a language, students and teachers can begin to conceptualize it in easier and more practical ways.
  • A lot of mistakes come from worrying too much about rote memorization and speedy problem-solving and from students missing large gaps in a subject that is reliant on learning concepts sequentially.
Keep reading Show less

How swimming in cold water could treat depression

The surprisingly simple treatment could prove promising for doctors and patients seeking to treat depression without medication.

Photo by Luis Marina/Flickr
Mind & Brain
  • A new report shows how cold-water swimming was an effective treatment for a 24-year-old mother.
  • The treatment is based on cross-adaptation, a phenomenon where individuals become less sensitive to a stimulus after being exposed to another.
  • Getting used to the shock of cold-water swimming could blunt your body's sensitivity to other stressors.
Keep reading Show less