Reading on computer screens changes how your brain works, scientists say –

“The ever-increasing demands of multitasking, divided attention, and information overload that individuals encounter in their use of digital technologies may cause them to ‘retreat’ to the less cognitively-demanding lower end of the concrete-abstract continuum,” they wrote.

In the study, participants were asked to do a series of tasks, including filling in a form, reading a short story and comparing different car models, with the group split between those doing so on paper and on a computer screen.

It found that those performing tasks with paper were overwhelmingly more capable of interpreting the meaning of the material, while those using computers would retain particular details.

For example, when choosing between two ways to describe “making a list”, those answering on a computer would select “writing things down”, and those doing so on paper would choose “getting organised”.

In a comprehension test about a short story, those who had read it in print fared far better in questions about the story’s inferences and broader narrative, while those who had read the digital document retained more information about minor details.


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