The Cognitive Benefits of Reading / Jane Sandwood

We all know that Nashville is bursting with songwriters, but it’s also home to many outstanding novelists, poets, and screenwriters. It’s a place where creativity abounds, making it a great place for writers to come together and form a literary community. But, in order to become a great writer, one has to be an avid reader, which is why it is essential to know how reading can impact our ability to create.

There are many advantages to reading—especially for the benefit of your brain. Readers will recognize the way that a good book makes them feel, and these good feelings are ultimately a result of the brain responding to your reading in a positive way. Just as routine writing habits are rewarding, so, too, is developing a reading habit that gives you the power to fuel your mind each and every day.

Here are 3 important ways that reading benefits your mind and imagination:

1. Spikes Brain Connectivity and Function

According to a neurological study at Emory University, reading a novel affects the brain’s function in a healthy, constructive way. Reading a novel stimulates the left temporal cortex, which is the section of the brain that allows you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Reading, therefore, improves embodied cognition in the brain, as a good book produces a heightened connectivity in brain function that can last for hours.

2. Engages You In Deep Focus—Like Meditation

A second benefit is the ability of books to help you relax. Having a similar effect to meditation, reading helps to reduce stress—even more so than listening to music, taking a walk, or drinking a cup of tea. Reading for just 6 short minutes can lower your heart rate and ease muscle tension, making it a great way to focus deeply and relax your brain.

3. Improves Emotional Intelligence

A third effect that reading has on the brain is its improvement of our emotional intelligence—or our ability to be compassionate and empathize. Researchers have found that people who spent time reading fiction showed an increase in empathy one week later. These findings conclude that reading stimulates the area of the brain that allows you to emote and to interact more positively or empathetically with other human beings.

Thus, in its ability to facilitate brain connectivity, inspire you to relax the mind, and improve your emotional intelligence, reading is an all-around beneficial tool to keep your brain healthy and functioning to its fullest emotional and mental capacity.

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Thanks to Tom Wood, Joseph Borden, and publisher/editorial director Clay Stafford for their assistance in putting together this week’s blog.

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And be sure to check out our new book, Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded, an anthology of original short stories by New York Times bestselling authors and newbies alike.

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