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Psychon Bull Rev. 2014 Feb;21(1):205-10. doi: 10.3758/s13423-013-0468-2.

Thinking one thing, saying another: the behavioral correlates of mind-wandering while reading aloud.

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  • 1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of California, Santa Barbara, Bldg 551, Room 1304, Santa Barbara, CA, 93106-9660, USA, franklin@psych.ucsb.edu.


Although mind-wandering during silent reading is well documented, to date no research has investigated whether similar processes occur during reading aloud. In the present study, participants read a passage either silently or aloud while periodically being probed about mind-wandering. Although their comprehension accuracies were similar for both reading conditions, participants reported more mind-wandering while they were reading aloud. These episodes of mindless reading were associated with nearly normal prosody, but were nevertheless distinguished by subtle fluctuations in volume that were predictive of both overall comprehension accuracy and individual sentence comprehension. Together, these findings reveal that previously hidden within the common activity of reading aloud lies: (1) a demonstration of the remarkable automaticity of speech, (2) a situation that is surprisingly conducive to mind-wandering, (3) subtle vocal signatures of mind-wandering and comprehension accuracy, and (4) the promise of developing useful interventions to improve reading.

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