According to comprehensive research conducted at Stanford in 2012, "literary reading provides `a truly valuable exercise of people's brains.'" Your Brain on Jane Austen
Preliminary results are pretty remarkable . . .
Surprising preliminary results reveal a dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for "executive function," areas which would normally be associated with paying close attention to a task, such as reading, said Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar leading the project.
During a series of ongoing experiments, functional magnetic resonance images track blood flow in the brains of subjects as they read excerpts of a Jane Austen novel. Experiment participants are first asked to leisurely skim a passage as they might do in a bookstore, and then to read more closely, as they would while studying for an exam.
Phillips said the global increase in blood flow during close reading suggests that "paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions." Blood flow also increased during pleasure reading, but in different areas of the brain. Phillips suggested that each style of reading may create distinct patterns in the brain that are "far more complex than just work and play."
I'm not sure reading Jane Austen will have the same effect upon me, however. Not a fan . . . But I wonder how someone reading Nietzsche would react--does this impair or increase brain function? And what happens to someone listening to the prophecies of the Third Eagle of the Apocalypse? Or someone who reads the Riddleblog?
Regardless, pick up a good book and read it. It will do your brain some good!
(h.t. Ken Samples)