Reading text aloud benefits memory but not comprehension

Brady R. T. Roberts, Zoey S. Hu, Eloise Curtis, Glen E. Bodner, David McLean, Colin M. MacLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The production effect—that reading aloud leads to better memory than does reading silently—has been defined narrowly with reference to memory; it has been explored largely using word lists as the material to be read and remembered. But might the benefit of production extend beyond memory and beyond individual words? In a series of four experiments, passages from reading comprehension tests served as the study material. Participants read some passages aloud and others silently. After each passage, they completed multiple-choice questions about that passage. Separating the multiple-choice questions into memory-focused versus comprehension-focused questions, we observed a consistent production benefit only for the memory-focused questions. Production clearly improves memory for text, not just for individual words, and also extends to multiple-choice testing. The overall pattern of findings fits with the distinctiveness account of production—that information read aloud stands out at study and at test from information read silently. Only when the tested information is a very close match to the studied information, as is the case for memory questions but not for comprehension questions, does production improve accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalMemory and Cognition
Early online date13 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jul 2023


  • Comprehension
  • Memory
  • Production effect
  • Reading
  • Text


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