How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

“If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably had a moment when your book felt more real than the world around you. Curled in a favorite spot, you may have felt almost as if you were in Narnia, had traveled through middle-earth with Frodo Baggins, or felt Holden Caufield’s adolescent confusion and angst.

Michigan State University Professor, Natalie Phillips, frequently had such experiences. She would become so lost in a book that the world around her would feel less real than the world created in the novel she read.

Curious as to how this distraction — or perhaps more accurately, absorption in a book — affected the brain, she decided to conduct a study.

What they found (and are still currently finding, as the study is not yet complete) was somewhat surprising. Brain activity during the skimming and distracted reading was as they anticipated, but brain activity during engaged reading was more global than expected.

When reading in a focused and engaged manner, a number of different regions of the brain are transformed, including those associated with touch and movement. Phillips suggests that it is as though readers are placing themselves within the story as they read it.”

Very cool findings. The whole article is worth reading.