New fMRI evidence shows that reading literature engages a surprising number of important brain functions. Some highlights of the article are listed here:
[Research] team placed study participants in an MRI machine and monitored their brain flow while reading the works of Jane Austen.
Blood flow was increased in areas of the brain far beyond those responsible for what cognitive scientists call “executive function,”
“In one subject… we saw literary analysis activating areas of the brain that we use to place ourselves spatially in the world and areas dedicated to physical activity.”
What this research suggests so far is that core skills in the liberal arts have immense cognitive complexity
“If our early results hold, it will suggest that literary study can shape not only how we read, but also how we pay attention, training cognitive flexibility, and encouraging us to use new brain regions.”