Here’s why reading is so beneficial for your brain
Reading does not only make you smarter, but also feeds your brain. While several methods claim to boost your cognitive function, like fish oil supplements, puzzle books, or physical activity, the easiest and cheapest way to improve your brain is reading.
Of course, everybody knows how beneficial reading is for the human brain. That is why many people prefer to turn off the TV and grab a good book. Here’s how reading can improve your brain:
The effect of reading on your brain:
The first and most basic effect of reading takes place in the area of the brain responsible for language reception – the left temporal cortex. Processing a written text stimulates the attention of neurons, which start to transmit that information. This also holds true for spoken language, but reading encourages the brain to work better.
Reading allows you to stop for a moment and think, confirms Maryanne Wolf, director of the UCLA Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners and Social Justice. Indeed, reading allows you enough time to comprehend and gain a good insight. Yet, oral language does not allow you to press pause to process the information.
The beneficial effects continue after reading:
Even after you finish a good book, the beneficial effects of reading do not end. A study conducted by Emory University revealed that some benefits can even persist for five days after you put down a good book. As Gregory Berns, director of the Center for Neuropolicy at Emory calls it, this is a shadow activity, almost like a muscle memory.
So, reading is like a workout for your brain. Moreover, it excites the central sulcus – part of the brain in charge for motor activity. This means that when you read about a physical activity, like running, the neurons responsible for that activity get busy and excited, which benefits your cognitive ability.
Reading is not created equal:
Reading in general and close literary reading in particular is a major workout for your brain. According to MRI scans, people who enjoy reading Jane Austen novels will experience improved blood flow to areas of the brain that control both cognitive and executive functions. But this effect was not witnessed with more leisurely reading.
Scientists at Carnegie Mellon University revealed that 100 hours of remedial reading classes improved the brain’s white matter of children aged eight to ten who were below average readers in ways that could benefit the entire brain not only the reading centric temporal cortex.
Of course, getting into the habit of reading requires a great deal of time and consistency. Yet, reading on a screen can lower your ability to concentrate and process the information. So, it’s better to turn off your digital devices and read a paper book at least one hour every day.