why reading is good for your brain
This just in: In other news, the world is round, Obama is the president, and. To quantify the claim that school teachers have been making for centuries, a group of Stanford neurobiologists, led by literary scholar Natalie Phillips, examined blood flow in the brains of subjects who were instructed to read passages from Jane Austen's "Mansfield Park" while inside MRI machines. : Subjects were asked to read leisurely at first, and then to make a shift towards more critical reading. In both instances, Philips noticed an increase in blood flow that exceeded "just work and play. " In the case of more critical reading--the type you'd engage in while writing an essay or preparing for a test--blood flow increased beyond executive function regions, or those areas responsible for problem-solving. In other words, both leisurely reading and close-reading could benefit us neurologically in pretty significant ways. In case broadening our cultural horizons wasn't enough! In spite of these findings, Philips warned against "historical nostalgia, or assuming those of the 18th century were less distracted than we are today. " She asserts that Enlightenment-era writers (her area of expertise) were just as concerned about withering attention spans as we are today.
Also, before you get your hopes up too much, too!
Over the past five thousandPyears, the minds of human beings have evolved to do an extraordinary thing our brains have learned to function in an increasingly complex environment. This includes our amazing ability to read. What s most excitingPabout our ability to read is that it is extremely good for the health of your brain. Reading a book or novel helps to reinstillPthe connectivity circuits in our brains for as long as several days (at least five, according to Neuroscientists at ). When individuals are examined with an MRI scanner while reading, a curious phenomenon occurs. The areas of the brain that are stimulated while reading remain stimulated for a long while after your book is closed. This leads scientistsPand researchers to believe that reading helps to stimulate (and possibly even develop) our brains in a very powerful way. elaborates on this concept by saying, Scientists at the in St.
Louis found that even the seemingly simple act of reading involves 17 regions of the brain, but not all at the same time. They studied 30 persons ranging in age from seven to 35 and found that some regions actually grew less active with age, so even the physical activity in the human brain is not constant. And that reinforces something our mothers tried to teach us: Start early. Read often. Give your brain a little help. Reading fiction is even more beneficial than reading nonfiction, because fiction has the ability to put the reader in the proverbial shoes of the story s characters. This helps develop our cognitive imagination, while at the same time working out our brains in much the same way that we exercise our muscles during sports. However, the unfortunate reality is that very few people read novels anymore. In fact, a 2012 survey reported that over 42 percent of American college students will never read a book again after they graduate from college.
Considering this information, we need to critically reevaluate the importance of cracking open a good book and getting lost in its pages. Another unsettling reality in the modern world is that, even though science has proven that watching TV is bad for us, there are more television sets per home than human beings. A a recent scholarly paper calledP found that [P]reschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom and are exposed to more background TV have a weaker understanding of other people s beliefs and desires, and reduced cognitive development, while the exact opposite is true when concerning books. Have you ever caught yourself saying, Gosh, the movie wasn t nearly as good as the book? That s because it s nearly impossible for a movie to live up to the standards of our extraordinary imaginations. Perhaps that s why we should take to heart what, famed author of Game of Thrones meant when he said, A reader lives a thousand lives before he diesPThe man who never reads lives only one. **Video by
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