This isn’t going to blow your mind but we wanted to let you know that reading makes you smarter – not just more knowledgeable, but actually more intelligent. Cognitive and Neurobiology scientists at Standard have just completed a test whereby subjects were placed in a MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine and instructed to read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. Scientists monitored the blood flow in the subjects’ brain and found that areas of the brain were stimulated that are not normally activated with everyday executive functions. Even altering the style of reading, from “leisure” to “analytical” produced stimulation in different parts of the subject’s brain. As Popular Science explained:
The fMRI machine allows the researchers to see blood flowing through the brain, and what they found was intriguing… [Blood] flows to areas associated with close concentration. That may not seem so odd–reading requires concentration–but they also found that critical, close reading requires a certain kind of complex cognitive function that we don’t usually employ. Both styles of reading, the researchers say, initiate kinds of cognitive function that go beyond simple “work” and “play.