Illustration from The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore by William Joyce
When you read a good novel, one that thrills you, or makes you smile, or cry - one that fills you with wonder or admiration - do you find yourself still 'living' the plot long after the final page has been turned?
A recent article in The Independent newspaper reported on some scientific findings from Emory University in Atlanta, US, which claim that reading a compelling story can trigger the mind into heightened states of neurological activity - almost as if creating another internal life to run alongside the activities experienced in our 'real' physical lives.
This reaction is more intense when a novel has a first person protagonist - when we sometimes feel as if we have experienced another separate life. This is described as 'shadow' activity - a way in which the brain redevelops itself, as if it is building new muscle. And the affect can last for up to five days when a novel has a profound affect on our emotions and imaginations.
The full article is to be found here. Fascinating reading of its own.