Advance Performance | Discover The Benefits Of The “Long Listen”
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Discover The Benefits Of The “Long Listen”

Discover The Benefits Of The “Long Listen”

Did you pack your Bucket List book for this holiday, or are you planning to finish reading War and Peace or Hard Times in the autumn? You could join the millions of new subscribers who are discovering the joy of the experience of the Long Listen. The benefits of listening to unabridged audiobooks and comprehensive podcasts may surprise you, and encourage you to plug in your headphones!

Recently, Radio 4 broadcast Marcel Proust’s 7 volume epic In Search of Lost Time over three days. The producer and director Celia De Wolff took on the challenge after the welcoming success of the 10 hour continual broadcast of War and Peace on Radio 4 for New Year 2015. In a recent article in The Guardian, she says:

Who has the time to sit down and read Proust cover to cover? Event radio like this gives the audience a sense of achievement. People want to feel they have experienced something comprehensive and worthwhile over [their weekend].”

Laurence Howell, the director of content for Audible UK, announced that the average subscriber listens to around two hours of their audio books, drama or podcasts each day, and sales are rising as people can listen to a book whilst at the gym, doing chores, or commuting, and have that sense of accomplishment of learning, enjoyment, and finishing the substantial bucket list book they would not have time to sit down and read.

Is listening to an audiobook the same as reading a physical or electronic book?

The short answer is yes! Last month, a research team of neuroscientists from the University of California at Berkeley reported their surprising findings that by reading or listening to the same narrative, the brain creates very similar connections. The researchers created interactive maps of the cerebral cortex that can predict where different categories of words activate the brain. They compared the listening-versus-reading brain activity data, and found the maps they created from both datasets were virtually identical.

At a time when more people are absorbing information via audiobooks, podcasts and even audio texts, our study shows that, whether they’re listening to or reading the same materials, they are processing semantic information similarly,” said study lead author Fatma Deniz.

So, your dendrites form in the same way whether you listen to a book or podcast, or read the narrative or information in a book, on your Kindle, tablet or phone. The semantic (word meaning) topography creates almost identical dendrite patterns providing the same benefits for learning and experience.

What are the other benefits for your mindset and experience?

The Radio 4 producer De Wolff highlights the overstimulation by constant images and scrolled information versus switching off to focus on the auditory experience as she is hopeful that “the use of imagination, where you have to paint pictures in your mind and fill in the gaps, is coming back.”

By stimulating the visualisation in your brain to create the scenes and context from the audio, strengthens the dendrites to promote established learning and memory.

Another interesting benefit is highlighted by Dr Javed Sadr, from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, who studies “slow” media. He says the “Long Listen” improves focus and control of thoughts against distractions, and boosts serotonin levels as the experience of focused listening is so powerful for the imagination, and in the experience of the human voice:

“There is more richness to a voice than there is to plain text, and the more work audiences put in to focus [on a long listen], the more they feel nourished and positive about the experience.”

To recap, there are three main benefits to starting a habit of the Long Listen which Heather also discusses in her speeches and  on her courses:
1   The dendrites are built and strengthened in the same way as they would if you read the book.
2    Your visualisation skills improve significantly by concentrating on an audiobook or podcast.
3     Your focus skills also improve so that you are less distracted and not multitasking with your brain, and these boost your serotonin levels.

So, take the plunge, download an app, put on your headphones, and discover a new author, tick off a classic from your Bucket List, or get to grips with a new subject. Boost your dendrites and your semantic topography! Focus your listening and increase your growth mindset!

Further links to try your new Long Listen AudioBook or Podcast:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/category/audiobooks?sort=popular
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/categories
https://www.audible.co.uk/
https://www.spotify.com/uk/premium/
https://www.apple.com/uk/itunes/podcasts/
https://www.apple.com/uk/apple-books/