What Happens to Your Brain When You Read?

Your brains change and evolve in some fascinating ways when you read. The left occipitotemporal cortex of the brain instantly associates each written word with its spoken equivalent. One part of the brain analyzes the meaning of a word, while another part allows it to recognize words automatically. Know more about what happens to our brain when we read. 

Your Brain When You Read
How does reading affect your brain?

What Happens to Our Brains When We Read?

Reading is a useful activity. Our minds change and evolve in some fascinating ways when we read.

The act of reading increases our brain connectivity, changes our mind for the better, enhances our compassion skills, and improves our memory.

When we read, the left occipitotemporal cortex of our brain instantly associates each written word with its spoken equivalent.

One part of our brain analyzes the meaning of a word, while another part allows it to recognize words automatically.

But reading too much can also kill our brain's productivity especially when new meanings are not being created.

Since the brain loves meaning, the information we can connect to our experiences will remain more than what we did not understand.

Any book lover can tell you: diving into a great novel or the best fiction books is an immersive experience that can bring your mind to life with images, emotions, and even trigger your senses. In reading, you can actually physically change the structure of your brain, and even trick your brains into thinking you have experienced what you have only read in novels.

10 Things That Happen to Your Minds When You Read

1. Different styles of reading create different patterns in the brain.

2. Reading changes your brain structure in a good way.

3. Reading about experiences is almost the same as living them.

4. You make photos in your minds, even without being prompted.

5. New languages can grow your brain.

6. The spoken word can put your brain to work.

7. Deep reading makes you more empathetic

8. Story structure encourages your brains to think in sequence, expanding your attention spans.

9. Your brain adapts to reading e-books in seven days.

10. E-books lack spatial navigability. Problems that students experience with e-books include distractions, eye strain, and inadequate navigation features, a lack of overview, and insufficient annotation and highlighting functionality.

Read books infographics

How Does Reading Affect Your Brain?

In the midst of our preoccupation with our smartphones, perhaps at the expense of reading in-depth and enjoying the exploration of the worlds of novels, talking about the benefits of reading novels seem pointless and perhaps boring.

But the new evidence that neuroscience provides may change your opinion of reading the literature.

Brain imaging shows the activity in our brains when we read a detailed description, an emotional metaphor, or exchange of emotions between two characters in a novel.

When you read a book, you are involved in more than a few of the brain's functions, such as visual and auditory processes, comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness, and more.

Regular reading a real book pushes your mind to work, keeps you focused, increases your brainpower, helps make you smarter and allows your mind to process the events that happen in front of you.

Researchers have known that stories influence several parts of the brain since the discovery of Broca's and Wernicke's areas.

Broca's area (found in the left inferior frontal gyrus) and Wernicke's area (located in the left posterior superior temporal gyrus) are cortical areas specialized for production and comprehension, respectively, of human language.

What scientists have discovered in recent years is that narrative stories activate many other areas of the brain as well, which makes reading a life-like experience.

Words like "lavender", "cinnamon" and "soap" elicit a response from the language-processing regions of the brain, in addition to the areas responsible for handling odors.

In 2006, researchers from Spain imaged the brains of a group of people with fMRI, those people read words that are strongly associated with smells and neutral words.

The images showed activity in the olfactory cortex, which is the area responsible for distinguishing activities related to smell, when participants read the words “perfume” and “coffee,” while the pictures did not detect similar activity when the participants read neutral words, such as “chair” and “key,” according to Article author.

The study also dealt with metaphors extensively. The scientists found that an aesthetic description such as a "difficult day" has become so familiar that the brain deals with it just as it deals with ordinary words.

But a team of researchers from Emory University in America found that reading textured metaphors leads to activity in the sensory cortex, which is responsible for actually feeling the way things are.

Metaphors such as "the female singer's voice was velvety" or "his hands felt like animal skin" led to activity in the sensory cortex. While expressions with similar meanings did not include metaphors, such as "the singer's voice was beautiful" or "his hands were strong", did not lead to the same activity in the brain.

Researchers have found that words describing movement also stimulate regions of the brain that differ from areas of language processing.

In a study conducted by the Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage in France, researchers filmed the brains of participants as they read sentences such as "John held the object" and "Pablo kicked the ball." The images revealed activity in the motor cortex, which is responsible for coordinating body movement. Moreover, the activity was concentrated in a specific region of the brain when the movement was attached to the arm, while it differed from that which was activated when the movement was in the foot.

It seems that the brain does not differentiate much between reading about an experience and practicing or witnessing it in life. In both cases, the same nerve regions are stimulated.

Literature rich in detail, fictional metaphors, and accurate descriptions of people and their actions give us a rich picture that approximates reality. Rather, novels may give us an opportunity to go through experiences that reality does not provide, such as penetrating into the minds of others and reading their thoughts and feelings.

On this, Keith Oatley, a novelist and professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, Canada, says that when literature affects the brain, it works like simulation programs run by computers.

Read Also: The Importance of Reading Aloud for Students

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The Scientific World is a Scientific and Technical Information Network that provides readers with informative & educational blogs and articles. Site Admin: Mahtab Alam Quddusi - Blogger, writer and digital publisher.

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