Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul
Why do we love books with strong metaphorical language, with deep emotions, with action, and with complex human relationships? Because your brain centers light up like a Christmas tree when you read them. If you read about a smell, your olfactory center responds. If you read about someone clinging to a ledge by their fingernails, about to plummet to the crashing waves below, your heart rate goes up, your auditory center starts buzzing, and your motor center revs up. As far as your brain can tell, YOU are the one clinging to the ledge. Pretty neat, eh?
This means writers get to practice mind control. Hee hee.
Reading novels not only stimulates the brain, it helps us become more compassionate, more aware of the thoughts and intentions of other human beings, and more emotionally resilient. The more complex the social life of the characters, the more fascinating and instructive it is to our minds.
Keep writing, everyone! You're working to make the brain a better place.
Posted by Rebecca J. Carlson at 4:26 PM