Reading Rewires the Brain

Reading Rewires the BrainIt’s an obvious fact that reading books regularly is good for your brain, and to be honest, if I had some spare time, I would too. Back in high school, reading the Lord of The Rings trilogy, those were the days. In fact, I’d learnt some vocabulary I didn’t used to know. Back then when we read off of a paper-back edition, rather than off the screen of an iPad. I guess there really is such a thing as Word Power. However, on a biological level, what happens in your brain when you read?

Stories shape our lives and in some cases define a person. We want to understand how stories get into the brain, and how they affect it.

Thanks to some new research by from Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy in Atlanta, we are now able to.

The experiment conducted involved 21 college students and their respective fMRI brain scans. They were scanned as they rested, and after which, they were given take-home assignments to read a few chapters of “Pompeii,” a 2003 thriller novel. Every morning, their brains were scanned again, over a period of 9 days, in which they were supposed to complete the book, and another 5 days after reading as well.

It was revealed that neural connections were at an all-time peak in the brain on the mornings following the reading assignments. Additionally, these heightened connections lasted for up to five days after the students have read the novel. Not only were neural connections heightened, though, but parts of the brain associated with language comprehension, as well as sensation and movement were also on their peaks.

It is interesting to see that it is not only the parts associated with language comprehension that seems to be taking a good boon when reading, but also those associated with sensation and movement. In a way, it seems that when reading, the reader puts himself, perhaps, in the body of the protagonist – the hero in the novel.

How long does the effect last though? It isn’t exactly clear, since the reports say that some readers had this effect on the brain on day for 5 days, while some had it for longer. However, the implications of reading on a child in which the brain is still developing might be bright. If through reading, a child is constantly instilled with a sense of heroism, confidence, and leadership, who knows what types of applications this might bring to light. In fact, what types of applications are already at play here? It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but I’m now feeling a bit more adventurous at the moment.

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