Jonah Lehrer examines the science of reading, and why new e-readers might make the process too easy:
[T]he act of reading observes a gradient of awareness.
Familiar sentences printed in Helvetica and rendered on lucid e-ink
screens are read quickly and effortlessly. Meanwhile, unusual sentences
with complex clauses and smudged ink tend to require more conscious
effort, which leads to more activation in the dorsal pathway. All the
extra work the slight cognitive frisson of having to decipher the
words wakes us up.
So here’s my wish for e-readers. I’d love them to include a feature
that allows us to undo their ease, to make the act of reading just a
little bit more difficult. Perhaps we need to alter the fonts, or reduce
the contrast, or invert the monochrome color scheme. Our eyes will need
to struggle, and we’ll certainly read slower, but that’s the point:
Only then will we process the text a little less unconsciously, with
less reliance on the ventral pathway. We won’t just scan the words we
will contemplate their meaning.
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