“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr. Seuss
Reading is a process that puts more neurobiological pressure than just looking at images or listening to words. It involves concentration, imagination, and empathy. Let’s read what are some of the scientific facts and studies about how reading affects our brains and provides us health-benefits:
- ”Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation”, says cognitive neuropsychologist Dr. David Lewis. A study conducted by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex in 2009, showed that reading, even for six minutes, slows down the heart rate and ease tension in the muscles. This reduces the stress levels up to 68 percent. Several other traditional methods of getting relaxed like listening to music, enjoying a cup of tea or playing video games, didn’t relax the tension in the body as reading does. The concentration while reading distracts the mind from the stress-causing factors and thus eases the tensions in muscles and heart. The human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction eases the tensions in muscles and the heart. So, next time you know what you need to do to achieve the greatest level of relaxation, just READ.
- ”Reading develops human connection”, offered as an evidence in one of the papers published in the journal Science. The experiment found out that the people who read extracts from literary novels are more empathetic and emotionally intelligent. This experiment emphasized reading high end text like the 19th-century Russians, the European modernists, the contemporary prestige names. The basic finding was that reading such high-quality literature (fiction) enhances the ability to imagine and to immerse oneself in the life of another, helping to empathize better.
- “Reading slows mental decline”, according to a research published in the journal, Neurology. This study involved 294 elderly subjects and it was found out that those who were involved in mentally stimulating activities like reading had healthy brains in old age. Those subjects who rarely read or involved themselves in brain stimulating activities declined 48 percent faster than average.
- “Reading can improve memory”, as found out by the scientists at Liverpool University. They concluded that when a person reads poetry, the area in the brain that is associated with autobiographical memory is stimulated. When a person reads, a lot is involved: remembering the main plot, characters, their personalities, emotions, motives, and the reader chalks out himself in those characters. Reading in simple terms, gives a mental workout, thereby aiding in mental fitness.
- “Reading may help with depression”, as shown by a study published in the journal PLOS ONE. When a person along with therapy, reads self-help books, his depression is lowered more effectively than just support sessions.
- “Reading makes you better at analytical problems”, as researched at the University of Berkeley/ This study revealed that people who read often can spot patterns more quickly and better than others. The complex process of reading brings several areas of the brain together, and creates a wholesome picture.
- “Reading makes you cleverer”, as researched by Keith E. Stanovich, a world leader in the psychology of reading and Emeritus Professor at the University of Toronto. He carried out a vast amount of research and one of his studies concludes: “If ‘smarter’ means having a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills encompassed within the concept of intelligence, as it does in most laymen's (sic) definitions of intelligence, then reading may well make people smarter. This is obvious in our everyday life, we can see that people who read a lot, maybe newspapers or books or white papers, anything, have high levels of vocabulary, they are well-versed in general and latest updates about the world, and definitely have better verbal skills.
- “Reading can slow the progress of Alzheimer’s”, as said by the lead researcher Susan Landau, of the University of California, Berkeley. The study found out that people who read or played games, or anything that cognitively stimulated them, had lower levels of beta-amyloid protein in their brains. This perhaps influences the onset and progression of Alzheimer's disease.”
Reading may look like just a simple process of taking a book, a newspaper, or an e-reader but it plays a huge role in influencing our brains and thus our lives. It impacts how we think, work, memorize and behave. Reading of fiction promotes empathy, reading of poetry makes our memory stronger, reading of newspapers takes our general knowledge to a new level. It’s not the point what someone reads, the point is reading helps in one way or another. Solo readings connect us to a better human being inside us. A group reading, as in book clubs helps us develop a social connection. A society which is educated and illuminated by the light of reading thrives and grows better. Imagine the world where a lot of people can’t read. Low adult literacy is a global problem, it affects the adult and his family in various ways. Unemployment, poverty, crime rate, school dropout kids, income disparity are some of the examples. We, who are better privileged, we, who can enjoy the pursuit of reading can fully understand the issues associated with low adult literacy. We are the ones who should stand together, and serve this cause. Come forward and support Vision Literacy today. Let more and more adults reap the several benefits of reading mentioned above. Donate your time, effort, talent and wealth to help someone read better, and live better.
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