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Sound Barrier? [ Top ]
Some readers need to hear every word with their inner voice, this limits reading speed to around 400 wpm. In such cases, auditory brain areas pace reading. This is called the sound barrier. Functional images of the brain show that a concrete word like 'book' preferentially activates visual areas while an abstract word like 'efficiency' is mainly processed by auditory areas, so words do not always require sound to produce meaning. Not faced with this sound barrier and without special training deaf people often read above 1000 wpm.
Subvocalization? [ Top ]
Subvocalization is the tendency to pronounce words as they are read. Activating parts of the brain related to pronouncing impose a reading speed limit of 250 wpm. This common flaw is what limits performance of average readers.
Tachistoscope? [ Top ]
A tachistospcope is a device that projects images with controlled size and time. The US Air Force originally used tachistoscopes to help pilots identify aircraft by gradually reducing the size and time of flashing images. This technique was then adapted to reading by flashing words. Shortening perception time only produced improvements for reading while the exercises were maintained. This kind of mechanical training totally ignored the cognitive aspects of reading.
Visual Span? [ Top ]
The visual span or attention window is the area that the brain has selected to analyze with full detail during a fixation. For the average reader visual span corresponds to one word; while for the good reader it is about five words at a time. The eyes have the capacity to perceive with sufficient detail text in an area of roughly 30 characters wide by 10 lines high. However as reading is not only seeing, this large span can not be exploited.
25,000 wpm? [ Top ]
Some reading methods pretend to achieve speeds of 25,000 words per minute. However they say very little about comprehension. To get a clear idea of what that means just go to the reading test, play with PageDown key, Start and Stop buttons until you get a 25,000 wpm score. You will realize that turning pages fast enough is the only obstacle to read at 25,000 wpm.
Time to Speed Read? [ Top ]
Ten to eleven minutes, 1 to 4 hours or 7 days to double reading speed are times proposed in various rapid reading advertisements. We are sorry to disappoint you, but we observed that doubling reading speed takes several weeks. Reading is a complex psychomotor skill like playing tennis, typing with 10 fingers or playing the piano. Speed reading like every developed skill, requires rewiring parts of our brain. The task demands a consistent training over sufficient time and is impossible to achieve in 10 minutes or even in ten days. You can under some conditions achieve rapid improvements that will always vanish because they are not firmly assimilated. The progression graphics of a FReader user clearly shows that the second pause contrary to the first, did not affect performance.
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Last modified Dec.2012