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How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

If you’re an avid reader, you’ve probably had a moment when your book felt more real than the world around you.  Curled in a favorite spot, you may have felt almost as if you were in Narnia, had traveled through middle-earth with Frodo Baggins, or felt Holden Caufield’s adolescent confusion and angst.

Michigan State University professor Natalie Phillips frequently had such experiences.  She would become so lost in a book that the world around her would feel less real than the world created in the novel she read.

Curious as to how this distraction — or perhaps more accurately, absorption in a book — affected the brain, she decided to conduct a study. 

Phillips teamed up with neuroscientists from Stanford University to determine if there were differences in brain activity between, casual, somewhat distracted skimming vs. captivated and engaged reading.

What did they find?

One Comment to
How Reading Lights Up Your Mind

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  1. I heard about this research on NPR last week and was fascinated. First, because I thought I was alone in often feeling so completely overtaken by a good book. Second because I believe that the full brain engagement brought on by attentive reading could well be a factor in developing young minds. I read many books to our children daily when they were young, and all three of them continue to be voracious readers. They were all at the top of their classes, National Merit Finalists, three-year-all state musicians, and honors students in college with promising careers ahead. I think it’s very likely that full engagement with so many books contributed significantly to their academic success.


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