Study: Reading a novel boosts the brain

Reading a novel causes boosts brain function for at least five days, according to Emory researchers, reports The Independent.

. . . reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

. . . “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.”

Twenty-one students read Pompeii, a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris. (I read it before visiting the ruins of Pompeii.)  It was chosen for its gripping plot: The main character sees the signs of volcanic activity outside the city and tries to warn the inhabitants.

I wonder if literary fiction would produce the scannable brain changes.


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  1. This was a small study with not many people and just one book. I would so love to see a lot of studies asking different questions–what about a more difficult novel? What if it’s really gripping history? Audiobooks? So many questions!