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Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’

30 December 2013

From The Independent:

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.

The new 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.

. . . .

“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.”

Link to the rest at The Independent and thanks to Meryl for the tip..

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8 Comments to “Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel’”

  1. Chemical changes to the brain while I read? It explains the addiction. 😀

  2. Exactly… after reading The Hunger Games trilogy, I seriously could not stop thinking about the books for weeks. Even sleeping was tough!

  3. Head Start, Baby Einstein, Stereotype Boost, and now the middlebrow novels of Robert Harris. After so much uplift, it’s hard to believe that the Singularity still hasn’t happened yet.

  4. You should ignore all studies done with fMRI. http://prefrontal.org/files/posters/Bennett-Salmon-2009.jpg

    Subject. One mature Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) participated in the fMRI study. The salmon was approximately 18 inches long, weighed 3.8 lbs, and was not alive at the time of scanning.
    The task administered to the salmon involved completing an open-ended mentalizing task. The salmon was shown a series of photographs depicting human individuals in social situations with a specified emotional valence. The salmon was asked to determine what emotion the individual in the photo must have been experiencing.
    Several active voxels were discovered in a cluster located within the salmon’s brain cavity. The size of this cluster was 81 mm3 with a cluster-level significance of p = 0.001. Due to the coarse resolution of the echo-planar image acquisition and the relatively small size of the salmon brain further discrimination between brain regions could not be completed.

    [emphasis added]

  5. Maybe, but my brain function is *destroyed* for days after *writing* a novel.

  6. I read “A Brief History of Time” and my brain hurt for three days after. 🙂

  7. “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,”

    I’m trying really hard not to feel creeped out by the dozens of times I’ve read Lolita over the years.

    :/

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