Friday, 4 January 2013


How often, when you're reading a book, do you put it down in exasperation because you can't 'connect' - because you simply can't escape the 'noise' of the physical world going on around?  

Then again, when a story draws you in how strange it can be to emerge again, finding for the first few moments or so that the 'real' world is an alien place, and the one created from words on a page is actually more vivid and alive.

The old saying that we become 'lost in a book' has now been proven scientifically. A fascinating article written by April Dembosky and published in today's Financial Times addresses many issues related to Cerebral Circuitry - one of which is specifically related to the act of reading:

"Matt Langione lies on his back in an MRI machine, reading a copy of Jane Austen's 'Mansfield Park'. Neuroscientists in Stanford's imaging laboratory are comparing the patterns in his brain when he skims the pages leisurely, and when he concentrates hard on the literary form. The technicians are surprised by what they find. The areas of the brain that light up during close reading are not just those associated with attention, but also those involved with movement and touch. It is as if the readers physically place themselves in the story when they analyse it more carefully."

Interestingly, this brain reaction occurs more intensely when reading from a book rather than via a tablet or screen which, in itself, raises an interesting subject for debate. Also, this 'reading experience' is perhaps the most positive aspect of a disturbing article that focuses on how our brains are being 'retrained' or rewired by an increasing usage of computers and related social media or games. 

If you get a chance to read it do - though as the FT has a paywall you may have to register to see. But you can do that for a free trial period and, believe me, it's well worth the effort. It will certainly fire up those neurones. It will make you think!


  1. Thanks for drawing my attention to this short but important article. I found the comment on the brain's engagement when reading a book as opposed to reading a tablet or screen most interesting. Also rather sad to read in this article what is already well known by many of us that our brains are being re-trained or re-wired by usage of computers etc. We will become so detached through re-training and re-wiring that eventually we will loose all sense of involvement.

  2. I agree. Some very disturbing confirmations in the full FT article of what I'm sure most of us must be becoming increasingly aware of.