Brain Power and Audiobooks

(Photo Credit: Fatma Deniz).


Audiobooks or Reading – equal benefits for your child.

Can’t get your child to read? Don’t worry – audiobooks may be just as good as a good book!

We’d probably all like our children to read more. We’d certainly like them to spend less time staring at screens and playing computer games! We’ll be talking about screens later but, for the time being, let’s concentrate on reading and all the wonderful things we may think our children may be missing out due to an aversion to books! It’s not surprising perhaps – to many children reading means work and the idea of reading when not at school just doesn’t appeal.

But there is an easy solution which means they can still have their playtime while exercising all those areas of the brain they might if they were sitting reading Tolstoy!

The  colour-coded maps of adult brains in the picture above show the semantic similarities during listening to an audio book (top) and reading a book (bottom).

The picture comes from a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. The study focuses on adults but provides an intriguing insight with ,possibly, important implications for children’s brain development.

In the research, researchers from the Gallant Lab at UC Berkeley scanned the brains of nine people while they read AND then listened to a series of audiobook stories. Then, after analyzing how each word was processed in the brain’s cortex, they created maps of the participants’ brains, noting the different areas that helped interpret the meaning of each word.

Looking at the brain scans and data analysis, the researchers found that the stories all stimulated the SAME cognitive and emotional areas, regardless of their medium – reading or listening

This was a finding that surprised the chief researcher at the Gallant Lab and lead author of the study, Fatma Deniz. The subject’s brains were creating meaning from the words in the same way, regardless if they were listening to an audiobook or reading a book. In fact, the brain maps for both auditory and visual input they created from the data looked nearly identical.

Deniz is now taking the experiment further by testing on a broader range of subjects. She wants to include participants who don’t speak English, speak multiple languages or have auditory processing disorders or dyslexia. Finding out exactly how the brain makes meaning from words could fuel experiments for years.

“This can go forever … it’s an awesome question,” she says. “It would be amazing to understand all aspects of it. And that would be the end goal.”

For now, Deniz says the results of this study support a case for people who have problems reading and children who grow up with dyslexia, benefitting from audiobooks.

So, if your child doesn’t read, get then into audiobooks – we know a few great ones ?. It could be just as good for them as reading, and they can even play with their Lego at the same time! (Just as long as they aren’t on a screen).

With this in mind it’s well worth checking out a Yoto player for your child, a wonderful little audiobook player that brings a whole host of amazing audio stories safely into your home.

With thanks to DISCOVER magazine where I first discovered the details of this story.