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Reading on a smartphone affects “sigh generation.” (Scientist or… poet?)

Jonny Diamond

January 31, 2022, 12:07pm

I can’t believe they’re just letting poets walk in off the street these days and do science. This is clearly the only logical explanation for the latest paper in Nature which, among other things, makes the very poetic claim that “reading on a smartphone elicits fewer sighs,” or, put more scientifically:

Out of six respiratory and two metabolic patterns that we measured, the tidal volume decreased during reading compared to the volume after and before reading sessions, and sighs were increased during reading using a paper medium.

This can only be the work of Anne Carson Bot. The significance of sighing to depth of comprehension is not entirely obvious, but the study of 34 individuals found that “the interactive relationship between sigh inhibition and overactivity in the prefrontal cortex causes comprehension decline.” As someone who sighs frequently and audibly, I now feel better about how deeply wise I must be. Because science.

That “reading comprehension is reduced when reading from an electronic device” is perhaps something we all know intuitively based on our own digital hygiene. Surely it’s no surprise that trying to read on an object that doubles as a camera/social life/TV/computer/news source will have an impact on the absorption of what we’re reading?

Looking forward to actual poems about “sigh inhibition” and its relationship to the beauty of the moon.

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