Your Brain on Books: Sweet Sweet Studies

Jessi Lewis

Staff Writer

Jessi Lewis has her MFA in fiction and an MA in Writing and Rhetoric. She was one of the founding editors of Cheat River Review and now works to bring her own fiction, poetry and essays to eyes each month.     Twitter: @jessiwrit

The Pew Research Center stated in October that 72% of Americans read a book in the last year. Yes, this is a drop in number supposedly since 2011, but I’m still happy that this many Americans are reading since that’s 72% with books training their brains.

According to the Atlantic, while prior studies have shown advances in brain movement during the reading process, a recent study from Emory University shows that reading can heighten connectivity in the left cortex of the brain after the fact. The activity is potential evidence that while we imagine the events in a book, the brain activity allows us to feel immersion.

So, there’s a good chance that 72% of Americans know what it’s like to dive into book-consciousness.

And luckily, that cortex activity can continue onward after reading, which just shows how reading can have better effects the longer you go with it.

This builds off of previous studies that claim reading is simply fantastic for your think-o-meter. According to Neurology Today, in 2010, a study out of Carnegie showed an increase in white matter in the brain after a subject read consistently for six months. White matter helps to control communication between areas of the brain.

What else does this potentially mean?

Someone who doesn’t read often or has problems with reading can improve that ability with practice. Sooooo… if you can find connection for a stubborn non-reader with the right book, then there’s always potential for growth.

I realize that most people who are Book Riot regulars probably already get this somehow. They have that understanding in their minds that when they read, it feels like the right vitamin for the mind. And while Pew also notes that digital sales have slowed, print sales continue. Which again, makes one pretty optimistic for the continuing consumption of stories.

What you should walk away with: Reading is good for you and it isn’t going anywhere. Which is fantastic.