Image credit: The Daily What! Mind Reading Shock!!
I have never for one minute thought reading fiction was a “waste of time.” but it is nice to have that belief confirmed with empirical evidence. There is evidence that reading for entertainment can “improve” your brain.
According to a recent Independent article:
“Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading”
The article Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’ says:
“research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.
The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.
Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition – for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.
“The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.
“We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.”
That is great.
We can be confident that even when reading for entertainment we are exercising the “muscle of the brain.”
I wonder if we could be selective about this. Will different genres exercise different parts of the brain?