Misleading infographic about audiobooks

This infographic has been reused for many years but is unfortunately misleading. At first glance, it seems convincing that the Audio Publishers Association (APA) has provided a bibliography of sources but, as is too often the case, we don’t really check whether the sources are accurately portrayed in the image. I write about this same infographic in my dissertation (Toms, 2016) based on a bibliography from 2016. As explained in Toms (2016, p. 39), there is no evidence in the bibliography that listening to audiobooks ‘increases reading accuracy by 52%,’ ‘improves comprehension by 76%,’ ‘increases motivation by 67%’ and when you think about it, statistics like that are not very meaningful as reading accuracy, comprehension and motivation are extremely hard to measure convincingly in a quantitative way. What age group is it referring to? Fluent readers and writers? I challenge you to go through the bibliography and find the source of the data.

There is one very interesting addition to the 2019 bibliography that was not in the 2016 version: Deniz, et al (2019) found that fMRI scans of brain activity were similar whether participants read the text or listened to a narration of the same story. This supports the study (Michael et al., 2001) quoted in my dissertation (Toms, 2016, p. 29) where I explain that it was the complexity of language that determined brain activation rather than the modality of input (reading or listening).



Deniz, F., Nunez-Elizalde, A. O., Huth, A. G., Gallant, J. L. (2019). The Representation of Semantic Information Across Human Cerebral Cortex During Listening Versus Reading Is Invariant to Stimulus Modality. Journal of Neuroscience, 39(39), 7722-7736. Available from: https://www.jneurosci.org/content/39/39/7722

Michael, E. B., Keller, T. A., Carpenter, P. A. & Just, M. A. (2001). fMRI Investigation of Sentence Comprehension by Eye and Ear: Modality Fingerprints on Cognitive Processes. Human Brain Mapping, 13(4), 239–252.

Toms, S. J. (2016). Listening to the library: Preadolescent student perceptions of the impact of downloadable audiobooks on their literacy development. Available from: https://rune.une.edu.au/web/handle/1959.11/21654

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