Any readers of academic literature with tips on overcoming PFS comprehension issues?

I find that I can quite happily read the news, or noodle around on wikipedia reading, but as soon as I try to read heavy academic text, I hit a comprehension wall. This has been massively improved by going keto (I believe), but my function is still unsatisfying. I have also found that placing a blue sheet of plastic over my screen when reading such text does help eliminate the kind of “visual noise” (I don’t know how else to describe it) I get after a prolonged period looking at a white page of text, where the writing begins to become harder to follow.

I just wonder if there are any others out there who read academic work as part of their job or studies, who have any other tips on overcoming some of these cognitive barriers?

My initial thought was to ask if you have read this sort of thing without issue before but as it is part of your job, I assume that you have experience of reading science literature.

It may help you to make notes as you read. This will slow you down but if you feel you are losing track, you can take a look back at your notes. Keep them as short as possible, perhaps just key words. You might have to experiment to find what works for you.

I had a period where I had servere problems concentrating and performing mental tasks. I am happy to say that the moments where I was most affected have not proven to be permanent states. I say this because I want you to know that it is possible for your condition to improve.

Actually it is more social science lit than hard science stuff. Having studied history at bachelor level and read a lot of semi-academic reports through work since, it is definitely something that has come on with PFS.

I do make notes, but yes I will try to refine my note taking technique. I also hope to find some other approaches to help with concentration.

Thanks for the words of encouragement. I too am convinced this is not a permanent state.

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Hey @WeCanBeatThis,

Good topic. Owing to my role here, I (thankfully) secured access to a university years back and spent the past years in structured self-education in steroid biology with current teaching materials, as well as completing distance courses on subjects like neurotransmission and genomics. Aside from the academic work regarding best practices and the choices of appropriate validated instruments, I had to learn several technical skill sets for the construction of the survey, which I believe is an unprecedented use of the development software (PLEASE take the survey by the way - you can access it by the bar graph in the top right of the forum on a desktop or laptop). I have been working for about a year on a literature review for our scientific contacts. The significant cognitive impairment I suffer has been a serious trial for me, on top of the extreme impacts PFS has had on my body and general health. I am sadly at the very hard end of this condition and often completely disabled. Forcing my brain to work at the level I need for the short time I even can often feels like walking through a relentless blizzard.

Throughout, what I have found helps more than anything is the software Microsoft Onenote. If you don’t use it, I would consider giving it a go, whatever the scale of your work. I use it as part of the office subscription and I imagine there may be a free trial.

The strengths of Onenote for me personally:

  1. It’s very easy and intuitive.

  2. Onenote works by “notebooks”. Within your individual notebooks, in the first side column you create multiple main sections displayed as coloured and titled tabs, and then there is a second column in which you create pages (which can be made collapsible sub-pages under a main page for further organisation). Practically, for me, this means I can have areas dedicated to each subject, and when I am reading a study or book I can very quickly add key notes under its title as I go through reading. This allows very complex things to be approached bit by bit, broken down into digestible core points for write-up, and generally pick up slack for a severely compromised working memory and cognition. You can keep adding as much as you want anywhere. My notebook for my current project is frankly enormous and it doesn’t miss a beat - everything feels instant and responsive.

  3. Within pages, you can really do what you want. Add images, draw, and dictate into the mic for conversion to text. You can just click anywhere and begin typing. So if you want to add notes next to existing bits of text, you just click further over from your main writing and begin typing there, and have an individually movable piece of text. You can also add handy things like tickable boxes very quickly, so you can keep track of what you’ve done. Within your text areas, it’s very easy to quickly format headings and whatnot.

  4. I have two laptops and a desktop, as well as mobile devices, so the syncing is absolutely crucial and works fantastically. I have not had one issue with it. It constantly cloud saves as you work, too.

  5. Lastly, dark mode. It has a really nice dark mode now, and for me this helps.

If any of that sounds like it might be helpful to you, I’d recommend checking it out. It’s very important to me nowadays.

Best,

Axo

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Definitely going to check it out, this sounds ideal for my thesis writing process. Thank you @axolotl, very much appreciated.

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That’s great, hope it helps sir. Please do me a favour if so and take the survey as mentioned when you get a moment :slight_smile:

Best

axo

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Going to do it right now

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