What reading a novel does for your brain

A new study out of Emory University found that reading a novel can have lasting changes on your brain (in a good way -- no comment on novels like "50 Shades of Gray").

The study recruited 21 undergrads who promised to read "Pompeii" when told. (It's a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris about a volcano in Italy erupting.)

For 5 days, the researchers studied the students' brains with fMRIs while in a resting state.

For the next 9 days, the students had to read specific sections of the book each night until it was finished. The researchers looked at the students' brains the next morning.

After completing the novel, the students were studied for 5 more days - using fMRIs during the resting state.

The results?

The researchers found that there was increased connectivity in the left temporal cortex (linked to receptivity for language) and the central sulcus (linked to making representations of sensation for the body) on the mornings after the students read the novel. The latter has to do with sensory motor neurons; when we think about running the neurons in our brain activate as if we were actually running.

The findings? One researcher said it suggests that reading a novel can almost literally transport you to the protagonist's shoes.

Here's what I read:



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