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News Link • Science, Medicine and Technology

This Is Your Brain on E-Books

• Technologyreview.com
 

I don’t have the best of memories, but ever since I was young, I prided myself on a particular talent with respect to reading. Occasionally I’d be near the end of a book, and would recall a passage near the beginning that I wanted to revisit. I wouldn’t remember the page or chapter, but almost without fail, I would recall the location on the page where the passage in question was. I knew that that wondeful description of Mr. Pumblechook appeared on the bottom half of a right-hand page, perhaps 10 lines from the bottom, and a few lines after a paragraph break.

I never knew what to make of this talent–how common it was, or whether it indicated I read more closely than others–but one thing I do know: it doesn’t have an analog in e-reading. I recall the sense of dismay I felt upon learning that e-books didn’t have pages per se, but “locations.”

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