I've heard around that our comprehension of audiobooks versus read books is roughly on the same level (the processes aren't really all that different, usually when we read we vocalize the words in our imagination, and when we are listening with attention we recap all the words we hear after we hear them to make them "stick" in a similar kind of way; when we lose our focus on either the words don't stick and it's like we never heard/read them.)

The major difference I see is that when reading we can double back and re-read a word several times until it sticks (which according to some arguments may actually impair comprehension rather than increase it), but when listening we can not do this, which also makes listening a slightly faster process unless you're an avid "speedreader"

So with that out of the way, I'm wondering about the effects (if any) of doing other tasks while we listen to audiobooks on our comprehension and memory of the contents are, especially if the contents are educational or historical material (not novels, where comprehension isn't as important, and our attention is kept more easily (since novels tend to be more exciting/engaging than history or sociology books))

Tasks can include low attention tasks that don't engage the brain that much (like chores, exercise (from swimming to weightlifting), doodling or mini-games (angry-birds or farmwille or flappy bird or tetris even), essentially things that anyone can just space out and do on "auto-pilot" without giving it any thought.

And high attention tasks (like reflex video games such as world of tanks, league of legends/dota2, call of duty or dark souls. Wiring/fixing electronics, creative drawing/design, sudoku or chess/go, or even programming or math), tasks which require us to stay relatively or completely engaged in order to succeed at them.

Assuming with all the possible low and high attention tasks that there is nothing that can distract your auditory senses (video games for example would be muted, and you wouldn't be playing music), what kind of effect would these kinds of tasks have on a persons memory and comprehension of an audiobook they'd be listening to while doing it?

I've heard some experts claim that some people can focus better on the teacher's voice in class while they're doing something with their hands (most commonly doodling) and that doing something with your ears (essentially instrumental music) can help them focus on written material (i.e. read better with music, hear better while using your hands & eyes for something) I do not know how true that may be, but if it is there is a chance that doing another task while listening to an audiobook could increase your comprehension instead of degrade it as one would normally suspect (meaning I can't rule that out either until I would see some data on this whole thing).

Your Answer

 

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.