Does your posture affect your reading ability?

Much of the reading that we do occurs near our hands. Previous research has revealed that spatial processing is enhanced near the hands, potentially benefiting several processes involved in reading; however, it is unknown whether semantic processing—another critical aspect of reading—is affected near the hands. While holding their hands either near to or far from a visual display, our subjects performed two tasks that drew on semantic processing: evaluation of the sensibleness of sentences, and the Stroop color–word interference task. We found evidence for impoverished semantic processing near the hands in both tasks. These results suggest a trade-off between spatial processing and semantic processing for the visual space around the hands. Readers are encouraged to be aware of this trade-off when choosing how to read a text, since both kinds of processing can be beneficial for reading.

Source: “When meaning matters, look but don’t touch: The effects of posture on reading” from Memory & Cognition, 38, 555-562.

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