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What really happens to your brain when you read?

Published Date
29/09/2014
News Topic
Workshops, Seminars & Classes, Seniors, Youth, Children

Want to know how listening to a book can make you better at learning a new language? Open Education Database has a great article which looks into evidence that diving into a great novel is an immersive experience that can make your brain come alive with imagery and emotions and even turn on your senses.

Amazingly, ten phenomena happen to the neural pathways in your brain when you or listen to audio books.

Did you know...

We make photos in our minds, even without being prompted

Reading books and other materials with vivid imagery is not only fun, it also allows us to create worlds in our own minds. But did you know that this happens even if you don't mean it to? Researchers have found that visual imagery is simply automatic. 

Spoken word can put your brain to work

When we're told a story, not only are language processing parts of our brain activated, experiential parts of our brain come alive, too. So go on listen to an audiobook in the car: it's good exercise for your brain.

Reading about experiences is almost the same as living it

Reading is the original virtual reality experience, at least for your brain. Your brain actually believes that you have experienced it. When we read, the brain does not make a real distinction between reading about an experience and actually living it. 

Different styles of reading create different patterns in the brain

Any kind of reading provides stimulation for your brain, but different types of reading give different experiences with varying benefits. Stanford University researchers have found that close literary reading in particular gives your brain a workout in multiple complex cognitive functions, while pleasure reading increases blood flow to different areas of the brain.

New languages can grow your brain

Want to really give your brain a workout? Pick up a foreign language novel. Research has shown that those studying foreign languages experienced brain growth in both the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex.

Your brain adapts to reading e-books in seven days

If you're used to reading paper books, picking up an e-reader can feel very awkward at first. But experts insist that your brain can adopt the new technology quickly. In fact, the human brain adapts to new technology, including e-reading, within seven days.

E-books lack in spatial navigability

Although your brain can adapt to e-books quickly, that doesn't mean they offer the same benefits as a paperback. Specifically, they lack what's called "spatial navigability," physical cues like the heft of pages left to read that give us a sense of location.

Story structure encourages our brains to think in sequence, expanding our attention spans

Stories have a beginning, middle, and end, and that's a good thing for your brain. With this structure, our brains are encouraged to think in sequence, linking cause and effect. 

Reading changes your brain structure (in a good way)

Let's face it, not everyone is a natural reader. However poor readers (and those who may not understand the joy of reading) can be trained, with scientific studies showing increases in the language area of the brain and improved brain structure!

Deep reading makes us more empathetic

Deep reading that allows us to feel what the characters in a story feel. And this in turn makes us more empathetic to people in real life, becoming more aware and alert to the lives of others.

Be sure to check out the complete article on Open Education Database. Now you know how good books are for your brain, check out our catalogue and choose which books are going to get your brain stimulated!

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