What does neuroscience say about reading

Why reading is better than reading

Dortmund. Reading is the be-all and end-all. Reading skills are the key to educational success. But how much book has to stay and how digital can it get when children learn to read? A question that will come into focus on the nationwide reading day (November 15). Scientists make exciting observations of how the brain reacts when it is supposed to master the complex process of “reading a book” or when it is fed digitally.

Neuroscientist and psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer is convinced that reading a book is more likely to get stuck. "When reading a screen, every nonsense flickers, everyone can write something and send it to the world at the push of a button." He emphasizes: "You learn to read by reading." If only short messages are read on small screens, that is extremely problematic. "

In primary schools only analog

And: "Reading educates, daddling not" - even electronic textbooks tempted people to daddle, observes the founder of the Transfer Center for Neurosciences and Learning at Ulm University. Digital media have no place in primary schools. With reference to studies by scientists and paediatricians, Spitzer warns: Digital media consumption harms language development in kindergarten age and leads to disorders of attention in elementary school age.

There is a considerable lack of reading skills among children in Germany. Studies have shown that. According to the Reading Foundation, every fifth elementary school child has problems reading. Learning researcher Katharina Scheiter says that children and young people read a lot. That is encouraging. "But reading behavior has changed as a result of digitization, and younger children are already reading digitally."

The psychologist from the Leibniz Institute for Knowledge Media (IWM) in Tübingen explains that longer texts that are read on a cell phone, tablet, PC or laptop screen are difficult to process more deeply and store in memory.

Problems with linking

With the digital media you gain enriching sources such as explanatory videos, pictures, graphics, animations - a plus. “The big question, however, is: How do we get all of this well connected?” Children, young people and adults alike have difficulties understanding the contents of the various sources individually and relating them to one another. According to Scheiter, the digital variant should above all have a supportive character - provided it has didactic added value.

Resources that would be necessary for a deep reading are easily wasted on clicking and multimedia.

Peter Gerjets, Brain researcher and psychologist

At home and at school, children would have to be instructed in digital use. “Nothing must be left untrained in class, and students must not be overwhelmed by the multimedia offerings.” She sees an opportunity to close the gap between poorly educated and well-educated families: “Digital media have great potential for individual advancement . You can differentiate much better. ”The classes are very heterogeneous, also due to different social origins - this is a good place to start digitally.

Brain researcher and psychologist Peter Gerjets looks at the brain. "Digital reading also means multimedia reading, with hyperlinks, moving and interactive graphics, animations - such digital reading elements can put a lot of stress on the brain," explains the IWM expert. This has also been shown in examinations using EEG - current signals are read on the scalp. An example: When doing an Internet search, the IWM researchers observe a great deal of activity in the frontal area of ​​the brain.

"Reading on the Internet is more strenuous and tends to be more superficial," says Gerjets. "Resources that would be necessary for a deep reading are easily wasted by clicking and multimedia." Reading for a long time on the screen or screen does not work as well as reading a book. He also emphasizes: Reading on paper, reading longer texts in books is very important. “It has to stay that way. What one learns in the process - concentration, keeping track of thought processes for longer - expands the brain. "

Brain needs training

Does our control center change in our head when it switches increasingly to digital from childhood? The basic mechanism of the brain does not change, but the synaptic structure does, explains Gerjets. “What is not activated is dismantled. The brain is like a muscle that has to be trained: Use it or lose it. "(Dpa)