Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why the Brain Prefers Paper

Jabr, Ferris . "Why the Brain Prefers Paper." Scientific American Nov. 2013: 48-53. Print.

The era of new technology has dawned upon the world and now IPads, Kindles and e-books make up more than 20 percent of books sold in the U.S. But it wasn't always like this, in fact studies done in 1992 concluded that people read more slowly on the screen compared to paper. As the resolution of screens sharpened and technology improved, people’s opinion on tablets have changed. More individuals have begun to look towards technology for reading, however, the effectiveness of reading on tablets or phones is debatable. The article Why Brain Prefers Paper by Ferris Jabr explains, as the title suggests, the reasons behind why our mind naturally prefers books and paper over technology when it comes to reading. When we read, the recognition and order of words form a map in our mind, which explains why we can sometimes re-locate a particular passage in a book without noting the page number. When it comes to kindles or e-books, though, navigation of text prevents the mental mapping to occur. Not only that, but Abigail J. Sellen of Microsoft Research Cambridge in England believes that the motion of turning pages and the feel of a book cannot be replicated, “The implicit feel of where you are in a physical book turns out to be more important than we realized. Only when you get an e-book do you start to realize it”. Also, when people look towards technology they usually think about playing games, or surfing the internet, making studying for a test on a computer less effective than from a book. More than ever, children are being exposed to technology from an early age, but studies suggest that stories read from tablets tended to be distracting, and children learnt more from the stories they read from books.
I chose this article because I thought it was interesting how we naturally prefer paper over technology. The reasons behind it may be why many people still prefer reading books over e-books. There are many apps that provide you with free books on tablets and phones, which seems economically smarter than buying a book, or checking it out from the library and risking overdue book fees. As technology continues to improve, more people will look towards tablets to read and the features we enjoy with books may be brought to tablets. Despite society’s transition towards technology, our mind still prefers paper over books for learning, which could be helpful when it comes to studying.
I thought this article explained everything nicely and I could understood everything that was written. However, by the end I felt as if the author was repeating what was said and kept throwing studies and facts at the reader. There was one paragraph at the end, explaining what kindles and e-readers would need to do in order to make people have to same experience while reading books on a tablet. I really liked this, and thought that the article would be more interesting if there was more on the development of reading on technology. 


  1. Yosman, you picked a very interesting topic and did a great job explaining it! Specifically, you presented very well the two sides of the debate over whether reading from a paper book is more efficient than reading from a tablet. Also, by referencing your article, specifically Abigail Sellen's opinion that reading from books is better than reading from tablets, you convinced me that reading from paper books helps you understand the literature more. Finally, you did a great job at explaining how modern society's tendency to lean towards technology has influenced the growing rate of tablet readers. In your current event, I found it very interesting that when people read paper, they make a map of the book in their brains, but this is not the case when reading electronically. I also found the part about children being distracted from electronic books, and thus hindering their learning, very interesting. If there was anything to improve, I would suggest including how specifically people are trying to make the tablet reading experience the same as paper reading experience. Overall, I agree with your review, and I myself can say that I prefer reading paper over a tablet or e-book. Fantastic job, Yosman!

  2. This article was extremely interesting and well written. The author included a ton of detail and wrote a very clear and concise summary. The author did a good job at providing specific details of people and studies that they have done, and even included statements from some of the experts which made this article even more interesting and intriguing. This topic is very interesting to me; I had never realized there was even a difference in reading comprehension between paper and technology. The author also did an exceptional job at explaining her reason for writing and the relevance of this article to our lives. It was very well thought out. My only suggestion would be to include some statistics and more specific details of what happens when people are reading on a tablet such as a percentage of how much information was understood on a tablet vs. a paper book.

  3. You did such a nice job summarizing and interpreting this article. It was clear and concise, and I definitely learned lots of new information from your article. I really liked how you began your current event with many facts, so we knew what the topic would be. Your summary was easy to follow, and left me with no confusion regarding your topic. I really liked your relevance paragraph, and how it contrasted both sides to the argument of paper vs. ebooks. I learned that there is a psychological part to your brain that favors reading on paper instead of on a screen. I also learned that one can read faster on paper because the screen can be distracting. One recommendation that I can give to improve this summary, would be to include a little bit more information on the brain aspect of the study. What part of the brain, and why does it happen? Great job!

  4. Yosman you did a great job on your article. It was very well written really explained the article to me. I most defiently learned alot. You did a great job at providing specific details of people and studies that they have done and wrote everything in such a way that it was not boring. I also really liked how your argument contrasting paper vs. ebooks included information from both sides. I never had before know that there was such a difference between reading on paper and reading ebooks. I don't think there is anything you really need to work on... maybe writing a more statistical reveiw. But overall it was a great article and really taught me alot. Great Job! -MEAGAN