Sunday, April 22, 2007

Speed Reading

This may sound as if im doing a bit of "PR giri".. but cant help it.. this concept really appealed to my grey cells and i know they would to yours too..

I had been attending this Clinical Research course in KEM hospital for 2 months. It was the last lecture, and being the optional guest lecture, many had thought of doin something else on a saturday evening.. I thought i was fortunate enough to attend it cuz i got to learn this new concept.

It was taken by some ex KEM pass out, Dr. Hozefa Bhinderwala, who is now a consultant psychiatrist in Prince Aly Khan and Saifee hospitals. Though the normal lecture which he was supposed to take was on communicatio skills, he slowly started digressing from the main topic to his beloved topic of "Speed Reading"!! Now this was something new to all of us.. and what followed for the next one hr was pretty interesting stuff...

I'll try and put together some of the excerpts from the lecture...

What is Speed Reading?? Simple... trying to read fast... with speed..taking less time to read the same topic than some other person reading normally... but mind you.. WITHOUT AFFECTING COMPREHENSION !!

Now thats interesting, cuz anyone can just zip-n-zap thru a page within a matter of a few seconds.. but the fact is .. does he comprehend it?? Heres what he told us..

The human mind is a great entity.. It has the capability to process about 400 words per minute. But we normally just feed them only 200 words per minute.. So what happens is, after the brain is feeded with those 200 words, It is still waiting for the other 200, which never come.. so it utilises itself by wandering away and thinking about other non-specific things.. and thats why we lose concentration... Once we lose our concentration, we dont comprehend the stuff which we'd just read and we go back to the same sentence and start all over again, this time reading more slowly, thinking that we may understand it better.. and hence we start the vicious cycle...

True, we may understand it better if we read it slowly... but why do we have to read the same stuff again and again and lose precious time, when we can speed read it with much better comprehension??

As medicos, we on an average spend 8-10 hrs/day reading new things.. Even non-medicos for that matter.. so that makes it more than 2920 hrs or about 122 days per year just reading!!!!!! that is 1/3rd of a year right??? If only i could have read it faster.. and then save those precious hrs so that i cud ve caught my favourite movie... or maybe saved a couple of days so that i would have gone for a small beach-side weekend vacation!!! Time is really precious!!

Now im not going to tell you about what precisely he told us in that 1 hr lecture.. but i'll just brush through some more interesting stuff...

Suppose You are driving on a road on a bike, wearing a bulky helmet and all... and u are approaching an intersection.. and you see a car approaching from the right.. You dont rotate your head the entire 90 degressto the right to see the car,then stop your bike, let the car pass and then start again, right?? you rely on your temporal field of vision to see the car, and then adjust your speed accordingly to let the car pass by and then pick your speed up again... or rather even increase your speed so that you pass the intersection before the car itself!! ;)

The temporal field of vision is roughly 120 degrees .. 90 degrees with a helmet on.. nasal 30-40, and superior and inferior 60-70 each... Each and every word you read requires just 1-2 degrees or even less ... so if you can trust your 100 degrees.. why dont you trust 2 degrees of your own vision??

Thats because we are trained from our chilhood days that we are supposed to read each and every word before proceeding ahead.. Before you can understand what is written.. But in fact its not so..

Take the example which i'll be giving below...

How will you read the sentence written below???

"Many people have taken this song and really felt like 'awww it's so romantic'"

You will read it as... "Many--pause--people--pause--have--pause-- etc"

That is you take a brief break of a fraction of a second after each and every word before you move onto the next word...

While reading, the human eye does two kinds of movements- Fixation and Sacchadic movement. When You are reading the word, its fixation, while when you jump onto the next word, its a sacchadic movement. The actual reading occurs only during the Fixation phase when the image on the retina sends the signals to the occipital cortex and then to other areas where comprehension occurs. During the sacchadic movement.. its a blank..

So the concept of speed reading revolves around minimising these sacchadic movements or the no. of skipping that we do while reading a particular sentence. Let me show you how...

take the same example as above..

"Many people have taken this song and really felt like 'awww it's so romantic'"

Previously , we had fixed our eyes on each and every individual word and then moved on to the next.. In speed reading, to minimise the skipping we'll concentrate on words like

"People--taken--song--really--awww--romantic"... the crux being relying on your vision.. your 2 degrees of vision that I'd mentioned before..

when you read "people", u'll also read "many" and "have" written besides them.. and so on..
Yeah!! I know it sounds damn simple.. but its really tough to begin with... but its not impossible. You just need to retrain your eyes.. trust what your eye is seeing.. It is capable of doing much more than what it is being used at the moment.

There are numerous articles on the internet regarding Speed-Reading. Just google /wikipedia Speed-Reading and see.. many softwares available too.. This concept has been introduced in India only in recent years. Not many people are aware of this. A few books have also been written. The First illustrated book on speed reading called "SPEED READ" was written by Dr.Hozefa Bhinderwala himself under the Birla publications and was available at the Mazgaon book depot when he took the lecture.

He also conducuts workshops on speed reading on a regular basis.
Last workshop i knew was being held near Nehru science centre, worli. Its a 4 hr workshop with many exercises on how to improve your reading speeds.. Many professionals have been benefitted.. though some have not, but it all depends on how you apply yourself right??

You can contact the following person for the same..

Tasneem : 98204 18407

Dr. Hozefa Binderwala :

They charge Rs.800 for UG students and Rs.1500 for professionals..

Interesting concept, isnt it??


Priti Arya said...

I 'speed read' your blog! :)

Freaky Gal :-P said...

phew!!.. me tired... looonnnggg blog... :-D