Brain function 'boosted for days after reading a novel'
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, scientists have said.
Reading benefits neural pathways in the brain
Notes that the neuroscientist Gregory Berns found neural adaptations through reading that are associated with the physical senses and movement, suggesting that one lives the experience of the novel vicariously. You are essentially placed in the personae of the protagonist.
The study included 21 students reading the novel Pompeii by Robert Harris, the book chosen for its engaging plot. The participants read the novel over 19 days, consuming a section of the book in the evening and being scanned by an fMRI the next morning. After finishing the book, researchers continued to scan the brains for five additional days.
The left temporal cortex, which is a region connected with language reception and processing, was engaged through reading, in addition to the primary sensory motor area.
The neurons in these areas are involved in convincing the mind that it is doing something it is not, which is called grounded cognition. For example, thinking of eating an apple engages the same areas that fire up when you are actually performing the activity.
The changes in the brains producing heightened connectivity continued through the five days, suggesting that the influence of reading the novel had a lasting effect on the participants.
Although the participants were no longer reading the book, they retained the cognitive benefits. This effect is called "shadow activity" and is analogous to muscle memory.
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Source is Independent.co.uk
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