I know what you did last night… Worried ?
No need to be, if you closed off your day by reading a novel – it’s left a mark on your brain, for all to see. Well, maybe not ALL – all those with a fancy fMRI machine can see, whether you’ve been reading a novel after hours.
The reason, as your eyes flitted across the page, your brain was doing more than recognizing the letters, with momentary flashes of electrical activity.
The story was changing your brain….
You’re in the book
You weren’t just reading that novel ….. you were IN the book. Literally.
When researchers from Emory University, wired up 21 undergraduates, given a reading assignment, to an functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) – they could tell who had done the assigned reading.
The reading assignment was not the course textbook……. which explains why the brain got excited. Doubt an academic text would leave too much of a mark on your brain, although long term, it probably does change your thinking.
YOUR BRAIN to the rescue
The assigned reading was “Pompeii”, the 2003 thriller, based on the real-life eruption of Mount Vesuvius in ancient Italy. The story documents the trials and tribulations of “our hero”, as he notices the volcano misbehaving. He quickly grasps the gravity of the situation, which seems lost on the rest of the poplulaiton and rises to the occasion. His mission – to rescue the love of his life from a burial beneath a plume of volcanic ash. And……………. it does end happily ever after, sort of. Pompeii is no more, but he saves the girl.
Reading this story, left traces, particularly in the central sulcus region of the students brain…
The traces lingered for days.
The story lines
The researchers monitored the impact of the action and drama, on the brain, for 19 consecutive days. Starting with
- base line brain activity – which was recorded 5 mornings in a row, before any pages were turned.
- On day 6 – the adventure began. The students consumed the novel in bite size chunks, around 30 pages a day, for 9 days. The assigned reading, was bed time reading. The impact on the brain was recorded every morning.
- After the last page had been turned, the experiment continued. Brain activity was recorded for 5 more mornings.
Reading the novel at night – changed the electricity recorded in the morning.
Heightened connectivity was documented in the left temporal cortex, since this region of the brain is associated with language, the activity here was not that noteworthy. We already know, reading flexes the “brain” muscle.
The more interesting finding, was the bump in activity in the central sulcus region, a part of the brain which makes representations of sensation in the body.
Activity here… suggests the brain was doing more than just taking in the letters, the brain was BEING part of the story. Not just in the moment…………… for at least 5 days afterwards. Maybe more, the team stopped measuring after 5 days.
Change your brain
Change your world. Pick up a novel and enter the story.
To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..
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