Tachistoscope principle

Tachistoscope is the device that launched the speedreading training in late 1930s.Tachistoscope is derived from the Greek words ‘tachys’ meaning swift and ‘skopion’ meaning instrument for viewing or observing. The device projects a series of images onto a screen at rapid speed to test visual perception, memory, and learning. Most tachistoscopes were designed to allow exposures ranging from 2 seconds to 0.01 second duration – which is extremely fast.

The efficacy of tachistoscopic training dates back to research during the WWII era when the military was investigating training protocols to improve combat readiness. One study involved training pilots to better recognize enemy aircraft. Renshaw used tachistoscopic training to teach U.S. Navy pilots how to quickly and accurately recognize airplanes. While originally tachistoscope was used to train pilots in world war one to recognize enemy planes. The tachistoscope effectively doubled and tripled visual recall of pilots.
Visual recall is enhanced as the flashed images are either increased in number or complexity as exposure duration times are decreased. The protocol I use involves a grading system which provides feedback to the trainee concerning the accuracy of the responses. When at least 70 percent accuracy is achieved, the next level of difficulty is displayed for recall and response. The goal of the training is to increase the number and/or complexity of the visual targets while maintaining accurate recall. Often numbers have been used as the visual targets, and research has shown that humans have the capability of recalling correctly and in the proper sequence, eleven numbers exposed for a 0.5 second flash duration. Tachistoscopes were used during the late 1960s in public schools as an aid to increased reading comprehension for speed reading. There were two types: the student would look through a lens similar to an aircraft bombsight viewfinder and read letters, words and phrases using manually advanced slide film. The second type projected words and phrases on a screen in sequence. Both types were followed up with comprehension and vocabulary testing.

From the short description above, it looks as if tachistoscopes used to perform wonders, so nobody uses them now? While the device produces high improvement after some training, the skill decrease very fast when not practicing to the baseline (before exposure) level. Since only very few professions (like law enforcement) may require continuous training of visual recall, the tachistoscope is not used outside of small professional circles.

You can probably guess, that our method includes several training exercises which in their nature are very similar to tachistoscope. This is one of the reasons our training ALWAYS works, but it is also one of the reasons the training should focus on wide set of skills.

How can you resist gradual skill degradation?

  1. Speedread every day at least 20 min. You do not have to train anything special, just read any book or blog you like.
  2. Focus on strategies, rather than specific exercises. The specific exercises are just crunches that support you until the strategies become your second nature.
  3. Understand the principles. If for some reason your reading speed will fall, you can ramp it up very fast using correct principles.
  4. Use the community to support your training. Others will provide you motivation to read further and better.

If you are reading this page, this means you need to read fast and have burning motivation to read fast. Do not be fooled by quick fixes, focus on life-long pursuit.

Get 4 Free Sample Chapters of the Key To Study Book

Get access to advanced training, and a selection of free apps to train your reading speed and visual memory

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.