You've always known it was true -- reading fiction is more than just an experience with words. It's an experience. And now, research proves that reading about sensory experiences and relationships makes the brain react as if experiencing those sensations and encounters. Fiction, apparently because of the rich use of imagery, is especially prone to producing altered brain activity -- much like a computer simulation. Not only does the brain respond to image-laden words, but it also responds to words about motion and emotion. In fact, according to a recent study, avid readers of fiction are found to better understand other people's behavior -- you're not just reading a story, you're becoming more socially astute. So, the next time you think reading a novel is just a waste of time or a mindless extravagance, think again. You're learning and growing and experiencing through the art of the written word.
To learn more about this study, check out this recent New York Times article: Your Brain on Fiction