You Read My Mind

I just wanted to draw your attention to some fascinating research on the act of reading…

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-neuroscience-of-your-brain-on-fiction.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

Neuroscientists have discovered that reading stimulates several different parts of the brain, not just our language-processing centres. When we read metaphors such as ‘”a rough day”‘ or ‘”a velvet voice”‘ our sensory cortex (our touch processor) lights up. And when we read the words ‘”coffee”‘ or ‘”perfume”‘ our primary olfactory cortex (our smell processor) becomes active. Reading stories also helps us to develop social skills; the parts our brains which govern interaction are active when we read.

What do you think?:

Are ‘great’ writers particularly good at stimulating multiple parts of our brain?

What impact could these studies have for the study of literature?

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3 Responses to You Read My Mind

  1. patlockley says:

    Or reverse it 🙂 At Uni I did one cognitive science essay (“Is there a language of thought?”) and once you get past the Wittgenstein into the science, there was a body of evidence to suggest everyone attempting a task (even if skilled or trained, or perhaps “great”) thought about it in the same way. The difference was some people “thought” quicker, and so produced more quality work in a shorter time.

    I wonder what would happen if a blind person was read to as well – does that differ? Could you make a case for an “accessible” novel?

    • cleohanaway says:

      Yes – Wittgenstein is fascinating on language. My MA dissertation was on Wittgenatein, Joyce, Woolf, and Nietzsche (nearly drove me insane!).

      An ‘accessible’ novel – it’s certainly something to think about. ….Any ideas, anyone?

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