A new study out of Emory University offers evidence that reading novels is more than just high-level entertainment. It also appears to be good for the brain.
The study, published in the journal Brain Connectivity, involved giving regular MRI brain scans to college students who were in the midst of reading Pompeii, a thriller by Robert Harris.
The results showed heightened connectivity (compared with baseline scans) in the areas of the brain associated with language receptivity and representative understanding—that is, grasping or sensing things the reader isn’t literally experiencing.
The heightened activity in those areas of the brain was apparent even days after the students had been actively reading the book, suggesting that something akin to muscle memory was activated.
A version of this article appeared in the January 22, 2014 edition of Education Week as Novel Reading Could Be Good for Brain, Study Says