February 2009

MRI Scans of Reader's Brains Show Active Engagement in Reading

Researchers have used Functional MRI (fMRI) scans of the brains of people actively engaged in reading short stories and lists of words to study what actually happens in the brains of readers. The research, conducted by a group who have been using fMRI to study the nature of reading for some time, will be published in the journal Psychological Science. Nicole Speer, Ph.D., lead author of the study and Jeffrey M. Zacks, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and of radiology and director of the Dynamic Cognition Laboratory in the Department of Psychology at Washington University in St. Louis

The most interesting aspect of the study, so far is this, from Professor Zacks:

Kindle 2 Text-To-Speech Controversy

Publishers and authors around the world are up in arms about the Kindle 2's new "Text-To-Speech" function, which reads the book out loud for you. (Presumably in a flat, computer-y voice.) The Authors' Guild contends that the Text-To-Speech is a copyright violation, because it undercuts the author's rights to sell the audiobook version of their novels, and will eat into audiobook sales numbers. Authors' Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken has stated that ""They don't have the right to read a book out loud," which comes as surprising news to many book buyers who habitually read their own books aloud. Who knew that this was a violation of copyright? Many authors are scrambling to point out that, although they may belong to the Authors' Guild, it does not speak for them.