Read a Book! Is Reading Really Good For Your Brain?

You flip through the pages, ofph, the book is long.

There is always the T.V, Netflix, and chilling out on the sofa.

Yet, what are you passing up by not reading?

Well, you are passing an opportunity to strengthen your brain, build empathy, and learn about others.

Recent research is even showing there is not a large difference between reading and actually experiencing in the brain.


Neuroscientists have long been able to identify the classic regions of the brain associated with language, mainly, the Broca’s area and the Wernicke’s area.

 

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The Broca and Wernicke’s location

 

Yet, there is more involved in reading then simply understanding the words. Simtualeously, the brain makes the stories come alive through utilizing our senses.

For example, the word “mint” stimulates areas of our brains associated with smell such as the Temporal Lobes. Temporal lobe stimulation works like this: if you like the smell of mint, you can almost feel the scent wafting into your nose. If you do not like mint, you might feel disgusted.

 

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The Temporal Lobe location

 

 

 This activation not only occurs with smelling but other senses too such as feeling. In 2012, researchers at Emory Universty discovered that the brain uses personal experience to understand metaphors. For example, if you heard the phrase, “It feels like nails on a chalkboard”, you can literally feel the uncomfortable scratch against a wall because your parietal operculum is activated by the sentence.

 

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Brain image from Emory study

 

That is why reading build empathy when you read about characters going through a difficult time, your brain treats it as if you were there with them. Studies show that for this reason, people who read are actually nicer!


Ok, so reading makes you more caring and understanding. But, how exactly does it make you smarter?

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Einstein, one of the greatest scientists of all time had a 15% larger lower parietal lobe then average. This area of the brain is illuminated when reading. So, want to be the next Einstein? Read!

The more you read the more you are exposed to new words, strengthening your vocabulary and ultimately your memory.

Want to be sharp at 80? Read to ward off cognitive decline!

 

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Stop that eraser by reading!

 

Brain scans of college students after reading show heightened activation in the areas of the brain associated with language comprehension and sensation. That means, preparing for a study abroad program? Reading a book even in your native language can help you become bilingual faster!

Sadly, Physchology.com found that only 42% of Americans read a book again after graduating from college. That is truly saddening because ultimately you are not only missing out on strengthening your brain but also having fun.

So, go out there, read a good book. I promise you and your brain will not be sorry.

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Sources

[1] http://neuro.hms.harvard.edu/harvard-mahoney-neuroscience-institute/brain-newsletter/and-brain-series/reading-and-brain

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-neuroscience-of-your-brain-on-fiction.html

[3] http://news.emory.edu/stories/2012/02/metaphor_brain_imaging/

[4] http://ideas.time.com/2013/06/03/why-we-should-read-literature/

[5] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201401/reading-fiction-improves-brain-connectivity-and-function

[6] https://web.archive.org/web/20070326211017/http://staff.washington.edu/sarawyck/Readings/brains.htm

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