Breaking News! Reading Is Good for Your Brain
We all try to read more because, hey, it’s good for us, right? This has often been said in a way to suggest that “it’s good for us because it keeps us from doing worse things like watching reality television.” But a recent study confirmed that reading IS good for you, and linked it to neurological performance and heightened brain function after reading a good book. The research, carried out at Emory University in the United States, was reported on widely in the days just after Christmas, when I was tearing into sweets and TV in a holy effort to stun my brain into a holiday stupor.
The Independent reports on the research, which states that reading a good book creates changes
in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the primary sensory motor region of the brain.
Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition - for example, just thinking about running can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.
Let that sink in for a second, then think about this: these heightened levels of brain function were shown to last for five days after reading the book. That is frankly remarkable.
So this is all great for adults who want to tear into a good novel, but what about kids? When you encourage them to read instead of watching TV and feel like the big bad, why not instead say to heck with it – wait until you’re an adult to tear into that juicy mystery?
A study monitoring 17,000 people from birth found that reading for pleasure increased literacy and even math:
…reading for pleasure was linked to greater intellectual progress, both in vocabulary, spelling and mathematics. In fact, the impact was around four times greater than that of having a parent with a post-secondary degree.
So dish out that broccoli, lead those jumping jacks, and proffer some engrossing novels. It’s good for you! And so much fun too ;)
Written by Megan Radford