How Reading Lights Up Your MindIf 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

Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. The comments below begin with the oldest comments first. Click on the last comments page to jump to the most recent comments.

  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.

Join the Conversation!

Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines.

Post a Comment:

(Required, will be published)

(Required, but will not be published)


Recent Comments
  • Psychops: I am a love addict and have been in therapy to process childhood trauma and the issues that authored this...
  • weokdude: Try pot for real. Sucks caus i have no motivation but i feel good about being alive. Maybe pot is horrible...
  • david waldman: This post was very helpful to me. I suppose I am in the minority as I was in a verbally abusive...
  • Survivor: Mythbuster, you may be right in some things, but not with this. The name “Love Addiction”...
  • Jean McGene: I disagree: loneliness is VERY real. It is a material manifestation–biochemica lly...
Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter

Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code