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Discover Some Brain Benefits of Reading
By Paulette
10/11/2012 9:01:00 AM
As the weather starts to get cooler, I feel the pull of my couch and the desire to curl up with a good book. In a previous blog I mentioned that reading literature on a regular basis engages the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning. Research has also shown that reading narrative fiction not only activates the language centers of the brain, its descriptive language stimulates other sensory areas. Recently, I stumbled across an NPR story about a literature professor, Natalie Phillips, who teamed up with neuroscientists to see if there were changes in the brain during focused reading versus casual reading. They defined casual reading as browsing or skimming a book and focused reading as reading from a more analytical mindset. Reference was also made to focused reading as getting immersed in the story. Participants read Jane Austen novels while lying in an MRI scanner. The scans revealed that during the focused reading, early findings showed that there was activity throughout the entire brain, even in "unexpected areas like parts of the brain that are involved in movement and touch. It was as though readers were physically placing themselves within the story as they analyzed it." So, it sounds like immersing yourself in a book is actually very stimulating for you brain. Book groups are a great way to inspire reading and even expand the type of books that you read. Book groups also lend themselves to more focused reading that prompts you to pay attention to things like plot, character development and structure. We have a small, informal book group here at Marbles HQ. We read primarily contemporary fiction and meet at a pub after work. During our cold Chicago winters, it gives us an excuse to stay in and read, but to also go out for drinks and talk about what we'veåÊread. Here are some of our previous reads: Let the Great World Spin Swamplandia! The Night Circus Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close   Let us know if you have any recommendations.   References: Thompson, Helen and Vedantam, Shankar. "A Lively Mind: Your Brain on Jane Austen" Shots, NPR Health Blog.NPR. Web. 9 October 2012.

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