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Books Science

Online Skim Reading Is Taking Over the Human Brain 224

Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Michael S. Rosenwald reports in the Washington Post that, according to cognitive neuroscientists, humans seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online at the expense of traditional deep reading circuitry... Maryanne Wolf, one of the world's foremost experts on the study of reading, was startled last year to discover her brain was apparently adapting, too. After a day of scrolling through the Web and hundreds of e-mails, she sat down one evening to read Hermann Hesse's challenging novel The Glass Bead Game. 'I'm not kidding: I couldn't do it,' says Wolf. 'It was torture getting through the first page. I couldn't force myself to slow down so that I wasn't skimming, picking out key words, organizing my eye movements to generate the most information at the highest speed. I was so disgusted with myself.'

The brain was not designed for reading and there are no genes for reading like there are for language or vision. ... Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on. The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading, and it has been documented in academic studies. ... Some researchers believe that for many people, this style of reading is beginning to invade our ability to deal with other mediums. 'We're spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scrolling and jumping through text that when we sit down with a novel, your daily habits of jumping, clicking, linking is just ingrained in you,' says Andrew Dillon."
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Online Skim Reading Is Taking Over the Human Brain

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  • Re:Ltetres odrer (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @03:25AM (#46691665)

    This age old internet legend is not exactly true [].

  • by Ozoner ( 1406169 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @03:57AM (#46691773)

    I notice this as well.

    I enjoy recreational reading very much, but notice that I must make a definite effort to slow down so that I better appreciate the book.

  • Re:Meh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekmux ( 1040042 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @06:12AM (#46692199)

    Can someone summarize the summary, it's too long to bother skimming.

    I find this comical, and yet it was flagged as Insightful.

    I guess we know how the masses feel. Goodbye bookstores and movies theaters, hello Twitter and Vine.

    Seriously, think about that. What happens when this mentality involuntarily leads society to continue to shrink their ability to be attentive to anything?

    Will Hollywood react and install POS scanners on every theater door so patrons can "swipe" to see the next 3-minute micro-movie? Will they even bother selling popcorn and soda?

    Will Stephen King give up on novels and start writing really scary comic books 12 times a year?

    When everything in life warrants no more than 30 seconds of peoples precious time, good luck finding value or reward in anything you do. Even something fun.

  • Re:Meh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @06:36AM (#46692269)

    another moron posted another moronic theory of how the brain works based on their own personal experiences of stupidity, laziness, and lack of focus. These used to be published by quick magazines called tabloids. Now they look legitimate.

    I personally felt stupider just reading the summary. I am online at work all day. now I can't watch tv without doing something else but I have gone through a dozen books(usually ebooks but not always) since christmas without any kind of issue.

  • Re:Meh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Tuesday April 08, 2014 @11:16AM (#46694391) Journal

    Congratulations, you are starting to get the same type of mindset your grandparents have/had. Now get in front of a mirror and start working on your "get off my lawn" face. ;-)

    An Egyptian legend relates that when the god Thoth revealed his discovery of writing to King Thamos, the good King denounced it as the enemy of civilization. "Children and young people," protested the monarch, "who had hitherto been forced to apply themselves diligently to learn and retain whatever was taught them would cease to apply themselves and would neglect to exercise their memories."

    Kids these days. Seems like the next generation has been ruining civilization since civilization began.

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet