Mark Twain was often subjected to requests from young authors seeking his advice. On one occasion, he was asked if fish were good brain food and should he eat more of it to be a better writer.
Mr. Twain responded in the affirmative. “Yes. Fish is good brain food and after reading your submission to me I would suggest you eat two small whales a day.”
Funny as that is, new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.
Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said. “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 changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the the primary sensory motor region of the brain.
Neurons of this region have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition – for example, just thinking about running, can activate the neurons associated with the physical act of running.
So, if you want to exercise that muscle we call the brain in the new year, buy some of my 5-star rated novels.