"This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement," said Colin M MacLeod, a professor at Waterloo.
"When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable," said Mr. MacLeod.
The study, published in the journal Memory, tested four methods for learning written information, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading, and reading aloud in real time.
Results from tests with 95 participants showed that the production effect of reading information aloud to yourself resulted in the best remembering.
"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," said Mr. MacLeod.
"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," he said.
The research builds on previous studies that measure the production effect of activities, such as writing and typing words, in enhancing overall memory retention.
This latest study shows that part of the memory benefit of speech stems from it being personal and self-referential.
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