5 Positive Effects Reading Has on Your Brain

Why reading remains beneficial in the digital age

Oct 13, 2017
Young girl with curly hair reading a book on the floor

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There’s nothing like sitting down with a good book. While the hobby is plenty entertaining, scientists and doctors have observed several positive effects from reading. Books inspire creativity, critical thinking, increase empathy, and offer plenty of other incentives to go and enjoy some word power. Read on (pun unintended) for five benefits everyone can enjoy from books!

1. READING ALLOWS US TO EXPERIENCE MORE SENSATIONS

In a study conducted at Emory University, reading increases the activity in the brain’s central sulcus, which controls our motor skills. If we read a passage where a character is walking along a path, the activity from the neurons in this area make us feel as though we’re experiencing the walk ourselves. Then, there’s grounded cognition; a concept that proves that reading actually puts you in someone else’s shoes through the brain’s biology.

2. IT MAKES US MORE EMPATHETIC

Literary fiction readers have a higher ability to empathize with other’s emotions and thoughts than those who read mainly nonfiction. In other words, fiction readers can be more empathetic, and have an easier time seeing a situation from various perspectives, just by reading about their favorite characters.

3. BOOKS PROVIDE PLENTY OF MENTAL STIMULATION

Mentally stimulating your brain on a regular basis can help slow down Alzheimer’s and Dementia. It’s like physical exercise; the more you move, the better shape you’re in. For your brain to stay healthy and alert, it needs exercise. Reading (along with puzzles and certain games) keeps your activity levels high and your brain power nice and strong.

4. WE BECOME LESS STRESSED WHEN WE READ REGULARLY

When you make a habit of reading, it’s easier for your brain to relax and temporarily transport itself to another world. A good book can daily stressors evaporate, put you in your character's shoes, and keep you focused on the words you’re reading. If you’re looking for an easy way to relax and destress, try to make a habit out of reading more often.

5. READING CAN IMPROVE OUR MEMORY

When you read, you’re engaging more than a few brain functions, such as phonemic awareness, visual and auditory processes, comprehension, fluency, and more. Reading jolts your brain into action, maintains concentration, and allows your mind to process the events happening before you. The more you read and engage that part of your brain, the easier it is to keep your memory strong.

REBECCA WOJNO, CONTRIBUTOR
Rebecca is passionate about reading, cooking, and learning about people doing good in the world. She especially loves writing about wellness, personal growth, and relationships.

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