How Books and Television Affect Your Brain Differently, According to Science
There’s a perception that books are good, while TV is bad. Spend a day curled up with a book and you’re an intellectual, but spend a day watching your favorite show and you become a couch potato.
Similar to how candy gives you cavities and sun tanning is bad for our skin, it’s common knowledge that reading books is good for you. It increases your knowledge and makes you think. Watching television on the other hand kills off brain cells.
But why is that? Why can’t watching TV be just as educational as reading a book? For example, does watching the show Game of Thrones lower your intelligence, while reading the books does the exact opposite?
After all, there are all sorts of books. Some good, some poorly written. The same applies to shows as well. Is the situation as simple as categorizing books as good and TV as bad?
What Science Says About Books and Television
In 2013, a study was performed at Tohoku University in Japan. A team led by Hiraku Takeuchi examined the effects of television on the brains of 276 children, along with amount of time spent watching TV and its long-term effects.
Researcher Takeuchi found that the more TV the kids watched, parts of their brain associated with higher arousal and aggression levels became thicker. The frontal lobe also thickened, which is known to lower verbal reasoning ability.
The more hours of television the kids watched, the lower their verbal test results became. These negative effects in the brain happened regardless of the child’s age, gender, and economic background.
In the same year, a study was done on how reading a novel affected the brain. Gregory Burns and his colleagues at Emory University wanted to see the before and after effects of reading based on fMRI readings.
College students were asked to read Pompeii by Robert Harriss, a thriller based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The book was chosen due to its strong narration and a dramatic plot based on true events.
After reading the novel, the students had increased connectivity in parts of the brain that were related to language…