Reading Faster: The Science Behind What Works… and What Doesn’t (Ep. 93)

Liz SchotterThis week, we’re diving deep into the science of reading.

My guest today is Liz Schotter, a postgraduate student in psychology at UC San Diego and one of the most active researchers in the field of reading and eye-tracking at the moment.

I reached out to her when I was doing research for the 3rd video in the speed reading series, and the insight she was kind enough to provide really helped to make that video shine.

After finishing that video series, however, I still had questions, including:

  • What are the biological structures in the eyes that make the middle (foveal) regions so much better at reading than the peripheral areas?
  • Why does subvocalization seem to be necessary to reading?

So I decided to ask Liz to be a guest on the podcast, and today, you’ll learn the answers to those questions and more.

Liz covers how the eye is set up, the difference between the two different photoreceptors within the eye – cones and rods (and how they send information to the brain) – and how reading is intimately connected with language and speech. We’ll also talk more in-depth about the speed reading systems I covered in the video series, and finally we’ll cover the best ways to become a better reader.

If you’d like to dig even further into this topic, Liz recently published a detailed paper that collects and presents much of the research that’s been done on speed reading; additionally, it explains the reading process and goes in-depth on many of the things we talk about in this episode. It’s publicly available, so check the link down below if you’d like to read it!

Things mentioned in this episode:

Want more cool stuff? You can find all sorts of great tools at my Resources page.

If you enjoyed this episode, subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! It’s easy, you’ll get new episodes automatically, and it also helps the show gain exposure 🙂 You can also leave a review!

Thomas Frank is the geek behind College Info Geek. After paying off $14K in student loans before graduating, landing jobs and internships, starting a successful business, and travelling the globe, he's now on a mission to help you build a remarkable college experience as well. Get the Newsletter | Twitter | Instagram

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1 Comment on "Reading Faster: The Science Behind What Works… and What Doesn’t (Ep. 93)"

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Leboro Ang
Dear Thomas, Thank you so much for creating this episode! Now I know better how my eyes and brain operate and I can be more at peace with myself. In the past I had suffered a lot by forcing myself not to “subvocalize” (saying the words in my head). Whenever I catch myself saying the words in my head, I would force myself to stop that either by increasing the speed at which my eyes roll over the text until subvocalization becomes impossible or by inducing a tension in some part of my body or mind such that the brain gets pre-occupied and cannot subvocalize the words. But the problem is that I will end up not understanding anything from the text I just read. In fact on the rare occasions when I test myself with some practice questions given by the teacher, I would find out that I didn’t remember anything I just read. I would appease myself by saying that maybe the words have gone into my subconscious and the subconscious just need some time to process it and maybe somehow later on it will remember it. Then later on maybe I would seem to remember something surrounding… Read more »
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