How good is your memory?
Reading out loud could be the key to memory retention. iStock

You are more likely to remember something if you read it out loud, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo in Canada.

Speaking text aloud helps words to cement themselves in the brain's long-term memory. This is known as the "production effect" where the simultaneous actions of saying words and hearing oneself has the most beneficial impact on memory.

"This study confirms that learning and memory benefit from active involvement," said Colin MacLeod, a professor at the Department of Psychology at Waterloo. "When we add an active measure or a production element to a word, that word becomes more distinct in long-term memory, and hence more memorable."

The researchers also found that part of the memory benefit of speech stems from it being both personal and self-referential.

For the study, researchers gave 95 participants four different methods for learning information, including reading silently, hearing someone else read, listening to a recording of oneself reading and reading aloud in real time.

The findings showed that reading the information out loud resulted in the best remembering.

"When we consider the practical applications of this research, I think of seniors who are advised to do puzzles and crosswords to help strengthen their memory," said MacLeod. "This study suggests that the idea of action or activity also improves memory. And we know that regular exercise and movement are also strong building blocks for a good memory."

The latest research, published in the journal Memory, builds on the previous work of MacLeod, his co-author Noah Forrin and other colleagues, which examined the production effect on activities such as writing and typing words in enhancing overall memory retention.