Reading a Novel Causes a Temporary Boost in Brain Power

We sought to determine whether reading a novel causes measurable changes in resting-state connectivity of the brain and how long these changes persist. Incorporating a within-subjects design, participants received resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on 19 consecutive days. First, baseline resting state data for a “washin” period were taken for each participant for 5 days. For the next 9 days, participants read 1/9th of a novel during the evening and resting-state data were taken the next morning. Finally, resting-state data for a “wash-out” period were taken for 5 days after the conclusion of the novel. On the days after the reading, significant increases in connectivity were centered on hubs in the left angular/supramarginal gyri and right posterior temporal gyri. These hubs corresponded to regions previously associated with perspective taking and story comprehension, and the changes exhibited a timecourse that decayed rapidly after the completion of the novel. Long-term changes in connectivity, which persisted for several days after the reading, were observed in bilateral somatosensory cortex, suggesting a potential mechanism for “embodied semantics.”


Study finds that reading an engaging novel that puts the reader in the perspective of another person creates new brain connections that last for days, but the effect is not reproduced in ebooks.

Folksonomies: literacy cognition books reading brain hacks novels

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Magnetic resonance imaging (0.971347): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Brain (0.908741): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Cerebrum (0.652000): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Cerebral cortex (0.526627): dbpedia | freebase
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 Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain
Periodicals>Journal Article:  Berns, Blaine, Prietula, Pye (December 9, 2013), Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain, Brain Connectivity, Volume: 3 Issue 6: December 9, 2013, Retrieved on 2013-12-30
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  • Folksonomies: brain reading