eReflect Notes Study Showing How Novel Reading Boosts Brain Activity on 7speedreading.com

Reading fiction affects the reader not only intellectually and emotionally, but also biologically. eReflect discusses the effects of reading in view of a new study by Emory University.

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Reading a novel actually affects the reader’s physical biology; plot and action that draws the reader into the character's life links them to the character to such an extent that their brain’s neural connections are affected even for days after reading.

New York City, NY (PRWEB) March 18, 2014

When people read fiction, what’s being read causes them to experience what researchers call “embodied semantics.” As eReflect notes in a recent post, this means that the reader develops an increased empathy with what’s being read to such an extent that their brain in some way mimics and mirrors the actions and emotions of the characters in the work they are reading. eReflect finds this new finding an important discovery in a better understanding of the benefits and ramification of frequent, even voracious, reading.

In a discussion on the 7 Speed Reading™ blog, eReflect explains that reading has a much more long-lasting and deeper influence on people than previously thought. Apart from increasing empathy, offering an escape from daily life, and providing knowledge in a range of topics, reading fiction has now been confirmed to affect the reader's brain biologically as well. The Emory University researchers, eReflect notes, observed how a reader’s brain responds and activates the motor-related areas associated with the activity being read about. For instance, if a person reads about a hero fleeting from an island by swimming, then their brain will mirror that activity through similar bodily sensations, which is what the researchers define as embodied semantics.

Reading a novel actually affects the reader’s physical biology; plot and action that draws the reader into the character's life links them to the character to such an extent that their brain’s neural connections are affected even for days after reading. The increased brain connectivity the researchers found in the brain area associated with language processing suggests a long-lasting and high-impact effect of reading on the brain.

This new study reveals that brain changes are possible and even expected, after what many people consider to be the inconsequential act of reading and processing other people’s experiences. It's an important finding with a promising future, says eReflect, especially as researchers continue to delve into the use and exploration of resting state fMRI for understanding the brain.

Fast reading enthusiasts might find themselves somewhat disappointed, since fiction doesn’t lend itself to speed reading and it’s highly unlikely that speed reading fiction will result in the same brain connectivity observed for people reading at a slower speed more appropriate to a complicated plot in a work of fiction. Nonetheless, those with speed reading skill truly need only to be reminded that with accelerated reading speed, the knowledge and insights gained in the end are as impressive as the results of fiction reading.

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  • Rick Wilson
    eReflect
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