How Reading Benefits Cognitive Function

In January 2012, neuroscientist Stanislas Dehaene published a study elucidating the impact that reading has on the brain. His analysis of 31 Brazilian adults who had learned to read from childhood, 22 adults who learned to read at an adult age, and 10 who had never learned to read was performed by implementing functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain function while the test subjects responded to oral language, written language and visual tasks.

Both the occipital and the parietal lobes of the brain are essential to human cognition. The occipital lobe is where the brain processes visual information and the parietal lobe is where the brain processes verbal information like words and thoughts. The imagination in a reader is activated, causing readers to be able to formulate visual stimuli which exercises the occipital lobe which has a large impact on decision making.  The parietal lobe is strongly associated with the temporal lobe in the process of reading, and thus causes a great increase in writing skills since the temporal lobe is responsible for information storage and overall comprehension.

Reading obviously causes mental stimulation which will in turn help to improve over all brain function. By exposing you to new ideas, word formations or mental images, your brain creates new neurons when reading. Creating new neurons in the brain exponentially increases your over-all comprehension since each neuron is likely to branch and attach to form associations and “judgments”/understandings of the world around you.

Reading a challenging book is one of the best time investments you can make because of the mental stimulation you will endure. I strongly encourage you, if you don’t do any other form of self-improvement today, to pick up where you left off in that book you started months ago and send your brain for a spa-day.  

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