Why is reading important?

Reading is a phenomenon that nearly all human beings take part in on a daily basis. Whether it involves reading a sign, reading the newspaper, or even mentally digesting words imprinted within the pages of a book. But why do people read? What are the benefits? How does reading impact the human body? How does it work? These are all questions that have recently entered my mind. After completing a relatively small bit of research, I realized that this sometimes boring activity holds a higher value than I had originally thought.

The Brain

“Knowledge is power” — Francis Bacon

According to an online article written by Carol Clark at Emory University , neurobiological research has revealed brain networks associated with reading. The article unveils the results of 21 Emory undergraduates that were monitored while reading the same novel titled Pompeii, a novel written by Robert Harris in 2003.

The research team monitored the 21 subjects by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to record the amount of impact that this activity left on the brain after each individual read the novel. The results showed heightened neural activity in the left temporal cortex of the brain, which is the area of the brain that is linked to language reception.

Also, there was a heightened neural activity in the central sulcus of the brain, which is believed to be the primary sensory motor region of the brain. According to neuroscientist Gregory Berns, “We already knew that good stories can put you in someone else’s shoes in a figurative sense. Now we’re seeing that something may also be happening biologically.” The research conducted at Emory University shows that this daily ritual actually has a biological impact on human beings.

How Is Reading Beneficial?

Aside from this interesting discovery, one question still remains unanswered. How is reading beneficial? There are many different ways to approach this question, but the best way is to look at some of the benefits that modern science has revealed.

  • Reading can help with people relax

Researchers at the University of Sussex found that reading could be one of the best ways to relieve stress. When compared to other modes of relaxation, reading took the cake with a 68 percent overall success rate. Other activities like playing video games and listening to music were significantly lower.

  • Reading may help with sleeping problems

Due to its relaxing attributes, the act of reading is one of the few activities that many health experts recommend before trying to fall asleep.

  • Reading may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease

Some researchers have suggested that certain activities like puzzles and reading help prevent diseases that could harm the brain. One of these diseases is Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many more benefits to reading that are listed within the links below. Main idea? Take a deep breath. Grab a book. Open. Read. Relax.

Sources:

Emory University article — http://www.futurity.org/reading-novels-leaves-shadow-activity-brain/

University of Sussex article — http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/5070874/Reading-can-help-reduce-stress.html

Reading benefits — http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/05/health-benefits-reading_n_4081258.html

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