storytelling and the body

Not that this is news to anyone who thrives on stories and storytelling, but researchers are “discovering” that the brain is powerfully affected by the act of reading.

Stories fire up the senses in myriad ways, building connections across different regions of the brain. Moreover, this research confirms what I was told many years ago – the brain does not distinguish between a ‘real’ or an ‘imagined’ event. Those of us who read know that literature takes us on all sorts of adventures, journeys of exploration and discovery in which we learn as much about ourselves as we do about the world around us.

I could get into a rant about how something is only ever accepted as “true” if it’s granted credence by ‘science,’ but perhaps that’s a rant for another day. For the moment, it’s nice to see that science has finally caught up. As Ann Murphy Paul writes:

These findings will affirm the experience of readers who have felt illuminated and instructed by a novel, who have found themselves comparing a plucky young woman to Elizabeth Bennet or a tiresome pedant to Edward Casaubon. Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined.

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