Reading Fiction Enhances Brain Performance

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Author Dr. Brian E. Walsh reveals how reading novels keeps the mind active and may be a secret to enhancing brain performance.

The human brain seems to hum along quite nicely, without effort or complaint, enabled by varying established patterns and routine. New research however, compiled by learning expert and bestselling author Dr. Brian E. Walsh, suggests that the brain can build neuronal connections and performs much better by adding novelty and random activity.

In his insightful and innovative book “Unleashing Your Brilliance” (ISBN 0973841516), Walsh maintains that curiosity is the key to quality learning. To grow, the human brain needs to be challenged. “We’ve discovered most of what we know about how the brain learns in the past decade,” explains Walsh, “including recent research at Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University that shows the pleasure center of the brain responds more strongly to unexpected than expected stimuli, and thus, novelty can be a strategic tool for training the brain.”

What does this have to do with reading fiction? These new discoveries may help explain aspects of risky behavior such as gambling, precarious decision-making and extreme sports; however, these findings also add credence to the simple joy of reading fiction.

By uniting creative imagination with learning, as in reading fiction, you generate a stronger challenge for the brain. According to Walsh, the very nature of reading fiction, particularly across diverse authors and genres, pushes our boundaries as we vicariously experience fresh scenarios. Inspiring us to create the scenes, the look of the characters, the smells, and the sounds, as well as prodding our emotions, reading fiction stimulates all of our senses and tweaks our brain. This in turn triggers brain cells to generate new extensions increasing efficiency and performance. Reading does this much more that simply watching someone else’s interpretation on film, television, or in a play.

Asked how this translates into the real world, Walsh says that it shows up in greater creativity and longevity. “Whether a child in school, a business professional, or a golden-age retiree, the chance of expanding innovative thought and increasing brain functioning is an incentive with endless potential.” So, what’s the secret for keeping that brain effective? Walsh’s advice is to “stay curious, collaborate with others for different perspective, embrace chance opportunities, push the boundaries, and read an enticing novel. It will enhance your brain performance and improve your quality of life, especially in the later years.”

Brian E. Walsh PhD studied Anthropology and Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) which set the stage for his continued formal studies. Upon returning to North America after years of working and living abroad, Walsh achieved his PhD completing a dissertation focusing on accelerated learning techniques that was the genesis of his highly-acclaimed book “Unleashing Your Brilliance” (ISBN 0973841516). For more information, visit


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