by Inigo del Castillo in New Trends on Monday 3 February 2014

Remember how adults used to say how reading makes you smarter? Now you’ll definitely want to go to the bookstore and buy a novel, because science! 21 students were used as guinea pigs in an experiment to see if reading a novel – in this case, Pompeii by Robert Harris – can boost brain function. For 19 days, the students read parts of the book in the evening, then had fMRI scans the next morning. After finishing the novel, they had another scan five days later.

Results showed that there were both immediate and long-lasting neurological changes. Neuroscientist Professor Gregory Burns says, ’Even though the participants were not actually reading the novel while they were in the scanner, they retained this heightened connectivity’. He adds. ‘We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory’.

Many book advocates say that reading can help us develop empathy, which is that feeling of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Now it looks like we can also develop brain muscles by simply reading a novel. Gains for the brains, if I must say.

Via The Independent