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What does reading books do to your brain?

Reading is perhaps one of the best hobbies in the world, and one of the healthiest. Whether you’re reading fiction or nonfiction, a newspaper or a poem, reading is not only educational and informative, it’s entertaining and relaxing, too. And, although it is still a widely unexplored area, research on reading has shown its many benefits.

Over the years, doctors, scientists, and researchers have confirmed that reading is a stress-reducing activity that can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. It’s been proven to improve people’s memories, increase brain power, and even enhance empathic skills. Reading has even been linked to longer life spans.

It’s a magical, and still somewhat mysterious process, but here are three ways reading affects your brain, and what it means to your life.

  1. Reading heightens brain connectivity – It’s not uncommon for people to say that a book has changed their life, but did you know reading a novel can actually change the brain? Researchers at Emory University’s Center for Neuropolicy have found that reading a narrative can cause changes in the brain, not only while participating in the activity but in resting-state connectivity, too. What exactly does that mean?

According to the study, when we read, the connection between the left temporal cortex of the brain — the area associated with language reception — is heightened. What’s more, that heightened activity continues for several days following reading.

2. It puts readers in the characters’ shoes, figuratively and biologically – According to the same study by Emory University, reading not only heightens the connectivity in the temporal cortex, but it also increases activity in the central sulcus of the brain, or region responsible for primary sensory motor activity. When we read, neurons in this area of the brain activate to create a sensation of not just reading about the action of the book, but experiencing the sensations it is describing.

For example, if you’re reading a passage from Harry Potter where he is running away from the Dementors, the neurons associated with the physical act of running are actually activated. A phenomenon known as grounded cognition, reading doesn’t only figuratively put you in someone else’s shoes, it literally does that through the biology of the brain.

3. It rewires the brain and creates new white matter.

Want to improve communication within the brain? Just crack open a book, because according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, reading exercises —at least in children, according to the study — can alter brain tissue in positive ways.

In 2009, scientists Timothy Keller and Marcel Just uncovered evidence that intense reading improvement instructions in young children actually causes the brain to physically rewire itself. In doing so, the brain creates more white matter which improves communication within the brain. The results suggest that reading deficits in children can point to specific problems in the brain’s circuits that can be treated and improved with reading.

Reading book teases your brain. Do you like to be teased by your crush? While she/he teasing you affects emotionally, reading interesting book does it intellectually, emotionally or spritually. Avid readers are, therefore, fine with life without crushes.

Reading book activates inactive brain. Human brain, unlike any machine, is capable of doing so many different things, determined by specific centers in the brain. Not every centers are active. Reading activates inactive centers or at least can provide you ways to activate them.

Reading book sharpens your brain. During reading, you are going through so many words, sentence structures, ideas, lifestyles. Some are normal, other are bizarre. Ability to grasp new things sharpens the thinking, analyzing, and concentrating ability.

People long to find better version of themselves every new day. Reading book is the most basic yet most powerful means. You can improve exactly what you want to improve by reading effective book on that issue. Change is often insidious in the beginning. With time, it works, if anything in this world works. I have never heard anyone regretting reading habits.

Above all, reading book changes your brain in the way you want it to when you can carry it out effectively.

keep reading, keep growing!