Have you ever stopped and thought about the quantity of reading material we are confronted with on a day-to-day-basis? Ranging from one-word text messages to half-long Instagram captions to books with over 1000 pages, it is safe to say that we are being bombarded with written letters all around us! One fundamental question asked by researchers is how this Impact of reading is affecting the human brain today. There is currently a growing collection of studies suggesting that the human brain permanently changes – both intellectually and physiologically – as a consequence of the reading that we engage in.
Are you curious to find out about how your brain has been impacted from all the reading you have done during your lifetime? If you internally answered “YES!” to that question then make sure to read along to learn 5 enthralling facts about the Impact of Reading that we at Daastan have collected for you!
5 Facts About Impact of Reading:
1. Children’s Attention Span Can Expand From Reading
Ever heard of brain plasticity? It is the brain’s special ability to adapt to changes in neural pathways caused by the changes in our environment and way of thinking, feeling, and behaving throughout our lifespan. The younger the child, the more “plastic” is the brain, meaning there is more room for undamaged brain parts to make up for the loss of damaged brain parts. With this knowledge in mind, neuroscientists have emphasized the importance of promoting reading in young children as a way to expand their attention span early.
We know that every story has a beginning, a middle point, and an ending. This holy structure informs the brain to think sequentially and to infer causal connections. Early practice of these processes teaches the growing child to think more coherently and attentively in the long run. This is thanks to the high degree of plasticity that the developing brain exhibits. Perhaps this is why it is crucial to expose children to literature that they truly enjoy reading. Once their emotional involvement increases, their attention span will hopefully follow suit and expand too.
2. You might have single brain cells solely dedicated to your favorite book!
A person learning how to read Chinese will use a different subset of neuronal connections that diverge from the pathways used when reading English. This might sound cool, but what is even cooler is that you could have exclusive “George Orwell 1984 cells” that respond only to the sight of George Orwell’s 1984 novel. Researchers have argued that unique cells like this do in fact exist, and they go by the name of “grandmother cells” (or also known as “Jennifer Aniston neurons”).
An experiment involving epileptic patients had electrodes implanted to identify the onset of seizures. In this experiment pictures of Jennifer Aniston were shown to the participants and this would in turn evoke a reaction in one neuron that was located in the medial temporal lobe. However, when pictures of other celebrities were displayed, the neuron would not fire – and even surrounding neurons nearby remained still. This line of research suggests that single objects, such as your favorite book, can activate single brain cells… Now we don’t know about you, but this sounds exceedingly fascinating to us!
3. Reading Increases Your Working Memory Capacity
Do you feel unmotivated to go to the gym and work out? Do not worry, you can choose to exercise your brain instead. Reading has been deemed as one of the best neural workouts as it involves several brain functions operating at once. Auditory, visual, learning, and phonemic awareness processes are all configuring simultaneously as we read. Reading stimulates the brain more than simply listening or watching media does, because it requires us to process, imagine, think, and mentally play with the narrative in front of us. Brain activity is subsequently boosted, and the increased mental activity resulted from reading increases the working memory capacity. Research has also found that reading slows down mental declines caused by natural aging, which is great for memory retention.
4. Improved Cognition for Creative Thinking
Isn’t creativity that one skill we all admire? To achieve creativity we have to think. To think further we have to expand our vocabulary and improve our language knowledge. Language is mastered through reading. Reading re-sharpens thinking abilities, which ultimately nourishes the creative mind.
One study aimed to investigate the effect of pre-lesson reading activities on students’ creative thinking skills. The results showed that reading before the lesson has an effect on several indicators in students’ creative thinking skills, such as fluency 67%, 56% flexibility, and 44% elaboration. This means that reading before lessons could potentially impact students’ creative thinking skills and promote fluency. We say thanks to the biologically predisposed language acquisition device in our brain for letting us think beyond our imagination!
5. Reading Stories Activates The Brain’s Empathy Network
Neuroscientific studies have revealed that story reading can activate brain regions that are related to humans’ empathy networks. Have you ever immersed yourself in a book to the point where you have felt like you have encapsulated the thoughts and events of a story as if they were your own experiences? According to neuroscientists, fictional experiences hold the power to integrate with one’s own existing experiences. Reading about other people living through specific emotions can turn on matching neural networks in the brain as if one was experiencing the events oneself. It is through this sense-making process that we would improve our ability to empathize. A lot more information about Reading for Empathy can be found in our other blog here.
And that’s all for now! What we can gather from all this information is that the brain is a seemingly strange device… But it is also a very talented piece of pink concoction. Either way, we have many more fun blogs coming your way soon, don’t hesitate to stick around for more!