Wednesday, May 11, 2022

How Reading Affects The Brain

Don't Miss

Reading In Foreign Languages Increases The Size Of Our Brains

How Reading Affects the Brain | Nesrine Makhfi | ENGLISH TALKS

If you really want to push the elasticity of your brain, try reading in a foreign language. At Lund University in Sweden, researchers found that those who read regularly in a foreign language experience increases in the size of their hippocampus and cerebral cortex.

These candidates have superior language skills than those in the control group. Likewise, their ability to feel empathetic is more well-rounded.

Reading Before Bed Can Help You Sleep

Creating a bedtime ritual, like reading before bed, signals to your body that its time to wind down and go to sleep, according to the Mayo Clinic. Reading a real book helps you relax more than zoning out in front of a screen before bed. Screens like e-readers and tablets can actually keep you awake longer and even hurt your sleep. That applies to kids too: Fifty-four percent of children sleep near a small screen, and clock 20 fewer minutes of shut-eye on average because of it, according to research published in Pediatrics. So reach for the literal page-turners before switching off the light.

Reading Enhances A Childs Development

Children who read can extrapolate what they learned in books to various scenarios. Things such as cause and effect, empathy, and rational or moral judgement are just some of the things children can grasp from reading.

Young children who are learning to read begin to develop their brains left fusiform gyrus, where the learned words and letters are stored. The more they read, the more connections are formed between the visual and language parts of the brain.

Don’t Miss: What Part Of The Brain Controls Senses

Reading Energizes The Brain

OK, you say, its hardly surprising that the language part of the brain would get a workout from reading. But reading also energizes the region responsible for motor activity, the central sulcus. Thats because the brain is a very exuberant play actor. When it is reading about a physical activity, the neurons that control that activity get busy as well. You may not actually be riding a horse when youre reading Seabiscuit, but your brain acts as if it is.

Prepares You For A Good Nights Rest

How does reading affects the brain

Doctors at the Mayo Clinic suggest reading as part of a regular sleep routine.

For best results, you may want to choose a print book rather than reading on a screen, since the light emitted by your device could keep you awake and lead to other unwanted health outcomes.

Doctors also recommend that you read somewhere other than your bedroom if you have trouble falling asleep.

You May Like: When Does A Fetus Develop Brain Activity

It May Help Fight Alzheimers Disease

Reading puts your brain to work, and thats a very good thing. Those who who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimers disease than those who spend their down time on less stimulating activities. The paper suggests that exercising the brain may help because inactivity increases the risk of developing Alzheimers, inactivity is actually an early indicator of the disease, or a little of each.

Reading May Just Help Your Brain Chill

Whether it ultimately makes you a better person or just a happier one, there is research suggesting the out-of-body experience that comes with a good book might be the empirically best form of relaxation. Thats from the work of David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist at the University of Sussex:

This is more than merely a distraction, but an active engaging of the imagination as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.

David Lewis

That also seems to hold true even if youre not inclined to tangle with the likes of Tolstoy while trying to de-stress: It really doesnt matter what book you read, Lewis says, so long as its thoroughly engrossing.

Whether you read to soak in brilliant writerly techniques for your own next draft, or simply because its too loud on the train to enjoy podcastsand whether you prefer leather-bound first editions or the alluring glow and convenience of a smart phoneGrammarly is glad to be part of the way you enjoy words.

Also Check: Can You Reach Your Brain Through Your Nose

Q: In What Ways Does The Coronavirus Affect The Brain

A: Cases around the world show that patients with COVID-19 can have a variety of conditions related to the brain, including:

  • Confusion
  • Trouble focusing
  • Changes in behavior

Patients are also having peripheral nerve issues, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome, which can lead to paralysis and respiratory failure. I estimate that at least half of the patients Im seeing in the COVID-19 units have neurological symptoms.

Reading Can Help You Relax

Introduction: Reading and the Brain

Theres a reason snuggling up with a good book after a long day sounds so appealing. Research suggests that reading can work as a serious stress-buster. One 2009 study by Sussex University researchers showed that reading may reduce stress by as much as 68 percent. It really doesnt matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the authors imagination, cognitive neuropsychologist David Lewis told The Telegraph.

Don’t Miss: How To Prevent Brain Tumor

What Happens In The Brain When We Read

  • Figure 1 – Regions in the brain participate in reading.
  • Brain areas that take part in the reading process: attention, concentration, memory and other thinking areas , vision , and language . Dark blue areas are involved in hearing and yellow areas are involved with creating meaning. Taken from Horowitz-Kraus and Hutton, 2015 .

Using these imaging tools on 5-years-old children, we found that, when children listen to stories, brain areas that are connected to language and understanding are active, as well as areas involved with vision . The reason why vision areas are active while children do not actually see anything is that the children use imagination while they are listening to stories. What is using imagination if not seeing the story that you are hearing in your minds eye? The same brain areas that are used for imagination during the hearing of a story are used at a later age for reading words. This is one of the reasons why it is important to regularly listen to stories at a young age, even before learning to read.

In another study, we found that the more the parent reads stories to a child and the more the child plays language and reading games at the age of three, the stronger the activation of the childs brain areas that are related to future reading . We even found that it is possible to examine the childs brain at the age of four and improve the synchronization of the activity of the reading and language areas! .

What Reading Does For Relationships

Reading may be a solitary hobby, but it’s one that can reap rewards when it comes to our relationships. “Reading fiction develops us emotionally,” says Ramsden. “According to Keith Oatley at the University of Toronto, reading makes us think and feel in different ways. As we bond with the fictional characters, we are learning to better understand people both on the pages and off.”

She references a team of researches led by Chun-Ting Hsu at the Free University of Berlin, who coined the term “fiction feeling hypothesis,” describing how narratives with emotional content actually encourage readers to feel empathy, “activating a special neural network located in the anterior insula and mid-cingulate cortex regions of the brain.”

Reading makes us think and feel in different ways. As we bond with the fictional characters, we are learning to better understand people both on the pages and off.

Read Also: How Long Can The Brain Go Without Oxygen

Reading Heightens Your Brain Connectivity

Everyone knows reading a gripping and powerful novel can make you feel and think in different ways, but did you know reading can actually cause your brain to change? Research has shown reading a narrative not only alters your brain at the time of reading, but it also continues to change your brain for days afterward. This is because reading heightens your brain activity.

Specifically, it is the left temporal cortex of your brain that becomes heightened. This is the part of the brain associated with the receptivity of language. The neurons in this region fool the mind into thinking it is doing an activity when it is not. For example, by just thinking about playing football, the neurons associated with physically playing football are activated. The same applies to reading a novel. If you are picturing yourself as the protagonist of a story who is climbing a mountain, the left temporal cortex of your brain is tricked into believing you are hanging from a rock and facing life-threatening imminent danger. Anybody who has felt their heart racing when reading a thriller or horror story will understand this sensation! This phenomenon is known as embodied cognition or grounded cognition.

Reading a novel affects a wide range of brain regions. This is because a story contains a multitude of communication forms. Neurobiological research is only just starting to understand how the brain functions when processing stories.

Reading Helps Us Understand How Other People Think And Feel

How does reading affects the brain

Reading improves our emotional intelligence. Books allow us to hold multiple points of view in our mind at the same time. Someone who reads more is thus more likely to empathise with fellow humans or animals as he/she is able to quickly flow into a third person’s perspective in order to see a situation through a different pair of eyes.

Reading improves our “theory of the mind” – how we think other people are thinking, and “how we use the states to explain and predict the actions of those other persons”, as the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy states.

This “intuitive philosophy” allows us to look around us and have a better idea of how people around us are thinking and feeling. This understanding can improve the overall quality of a person’s life as it would allow us to act with better judgement and more insight into the feelings and thought pattern of others.

Reading helps us empathise much better, allowing us to connect with other people more as it trains us to understand and accept other perspectives. Our executive functioning improves because of these effects on the brain.

Our “theory of the mind” can be improved by reading narratives, as per a meta-analysis by York University’s Raymond A. Mar. The better we understand what is going on in a narrative, the better we would understand the people around us and their actions and intentions.

Read Also: How To Shrink A Brain Tumor Naturally

Other Factors Linked To Mental Illness

While mental illness can be linked to changes in the brains functioning and chemistry, there are other underlying concerns that can make individuals more likely to struggle with mental health challenges.

These concerns include our genetic profile or the traits we inherit from our parents and other family members. Scientists believe that individuals whose family members had schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder , for example, may be at a higher risk to develop those conditions themselves.

Other factors that influence our mental health are physical injuries, such as damage to the head or brain, and the environment in which we live, including exposure to violence, pollution, limited or unhealthy food, lead-based paint, cigarette smoke, poverty, crime, and traumatic events.

While we may not have control over our genetic makeup or the environment in which we grow up, we can take more proactive steps as we grow older to maintain our mental health. If we know that mental illness runs in our family, for example, we can be vigilant about watching for common signs and symptoms, as well as working closely with a doctor, therapist, or counselor to guide us on proper treatment. And if we grew up in a difficult environment, we can seek out professional help and guidance as we get older to help overcome that childhood trauma.

Reading Invites More Empathy Into Our Everyday Lives

Reading allows us to drift away from the stressful and emotional buzzing of our everyday lives in favor of a refreshing perspective and story.

As this escape occurs, our minds and hearts become more open to feeling what the characters feel.

If youve ever experienced a deep connection to a character, you know what this feels like.

When reading, we drop mental and emotional barriers. We open up to more empathetic experiences.

The more we engage in this kind of activity, the more it becomes a habit and blends into our everyday routine, thus making us more empathetic to people in real life.

Don’t Miss: Can Brain Freeze Kill You

Spoken Word Can Put Your Brain To Work:

Critics are quick to dismiss audiobooks as a sub-par reading experience, but research has shown that the act of listening to a story can light up your brain. When we’re told a story, not only are language processing parts of our brain activated, experiential parts of our brain come alive, too. Hear about food? Your sensory cortex lights up, while motion activates the motor cortex. And while you may think that this is limited only to audiobooks or reading, experts insist that our brains are exposed to narratives all day long. In fact, researcher Jeremy Hsu shares, “Personal stories and gossip make up 65% of our conversations.” So go ahead, listen to your coworker’s long and drawn out story about their vacation, tune in to talk radio, or listen to an audiobook in the car: it’s good exercise for your brain.

How Did We Test Our Question

Dyslexia : What Parts of the Brain Does Dyslexia Affect?

Nineteen healthy children of ages 812 participated in this research, all English speakers. These children underwent an fMRI scan. The MRI device is a big magnet, with no radiation, which allows scientists to track the blood flow in the brain. The blood flow shows the active brain regions.

This means we can use fMRI to see which areas of the brain are activated while the children perform tasks that involve vision, attention, language processing, and additional skills. The children were asked to look at a screen with nothing on it other than the + sign. This is called a resting state task, and it allowed us to check the brain networks involved with vision, attention, and other brain functions when the children were resting. The brain does not stop being active even when it is resting and studies have shown that it is possible to see that these brain networks are active during resting conditions. After completing the scan, the children were asked how much time they spend using screens during the week and how much time they spend reading . We performed a mathematical analysis of these data, including a test called a correlation check to see how screen-time and reading-time were related to the activation of brain areas involved with language ability, attention, memory, and vision. In other words, how do reading time and screen time relate to the synchronization of regions supporting reading?

Don’t Miss: Is Minecraft Good For Your Brain

Ways Reading Improves Your Mind And Body

Brendan Brown

As any avid book reader can tell you, immersing yourself in a great book can make your brain come alive. It sounds romantic, but science is now proving this to be true.

When we read, not only are we improving memory and empathy, but research has shown that it makes us feel better and more positive too. Science has shown that reading has some amazing health benefits, including helping with depression, cutting stress, and reducing the chances of developing Alzheimers later in life.

If youre one of countless people who dont make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out. To be inspired to become an avid reader, weve created the infographic below on the brain-boosting benefits of reading.

Have you heard of MasterClass. The mega popular online learning platform is making waves at the moment. Brendan Brown decided to see what all the fuss was about and write up his own epic MasterClass review.

You may not think about this at all as you are cozying up and about open a book, but reading is an activity that can make you sharper, stronger, happier, and have better relationships to boot.

Reading is an exercise for the brain which can strengthen neuronal pathways as well as create new ones. Being immersed in a book can help reduce stress and improve sleep. From encouraging the development of childrens brains to staving off dementia in the elderly, reading can be the key to living better and longer.

Reading Can Make You More Empathetic

Getting lost in a good read can make it easier for you to relate to others. Literary fiction, specifically, has the power to help its readers understand what others are thinking by reading other peoples emotions, according to research published in Science. The impact is much more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction. Understanding others mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies, David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano wrote of their findings.

Don’t Miss: Can Hitting Your Head With Your Hand Cause Brain Damage

Improved Focus And Concentration

In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day.

In a single 5-minute span, the average person will divide their time between working on a task, checking email, chatting with a couple of people , keeping an eye on twitter, monitoring their smartphone, and interacting with co-workers. This type of ADD-like behaviour causes stress levels to rise, and lowers our productivity.

When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the storythe rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail youre absorbing.

Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work , and youll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

Additional information: if you find staying focus hard and re trying to improve your focus, its possible youve been doing it wrong.

More articles

Popular Articles