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Faith Florer, Jemma Lampkin, E. Corey Lawrence, Veronique Pardieu, Katherine Lu; Age, memory, and polarity: The ability to remember text, as affected by age, paper versus computer, and polarity (black vs. white text and background). Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):522. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/7.9.522.
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We explored whether older (40–50 years) or younger (20–30 years) readers would recall more words from nonfiction text when text was read on paper vs the computer, and when participants read black text on white background or white text on black background. After reading, participants worked on a distractor task; then participated in a 20 word explicit or implicit memory test. We tested subjects after a one-minute delay. We found that older readers recalled more words when text was white on a black computer background. Conversely, they recalled more when text was black and backround paper was white. The benefits of black text on the computer is consistent with the literature showing that glare adversely affects reading when people have low vision. The results suggest that visual variables, rather than comfort level conferred by the familiarity of paper, are more likely to affect how material is retained when older people are reading. Younger people recalled more on paper than the computer, regardless of the polarity (white vs. black) of the text, consistent with past studies.
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