How Do Books Affect Your Brain?
In the words of Stephen King: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” A special kind of brain magic because books help the brain increase and enhance its mental functions. Reading books daily is an exercise our brain needs to be at its optimal performance. In order to get the most out of this exercise, we should read when our brain is at its peak, either early in the morning or right before sleeping at night, for at least 30 minutes.
Books And The Brain
- Increased vocabulary
First and foremost, reading frequently improves our already existing vocabulary. The more we read, the more we make use of the appropriate words and their synonyms in our everyday speech. This also extends to the way we write. All of this works together to boost a person’s self-confidence, which increases self-worth.
- Language processing
When we turn reading into a habit, we condition our brain to use the part responsible for processing language and analytical skills. This means our brains become more fluent in using the correct syntax. The other benefit is because reading uses the part of our brain related to logic, analytical reasoning, and problem-solving, it makes us better academically. The improvement extends to all of these areas, especially in subjects where we can actively solve a problem and derive an answer.
- Increased focus
Reading a book is different from shorter reading spurts, say in studying a section of text or reading an article. This is because in a book, we are reading continuously, which trains our brain for longer-term sharper focus. Not only will this increased focus result in better academic results, but it will also increase our problem-solving abilities which can come in handy in many areas of our lives. For example, increased focus translates to more patience when attempting to solve a problem or learn something new, perfect for anyone wanting to dive into a new hobby.
- Memory retention
Once we’ve developed the habit of reading over time, our brain becomes faster and more adept with our memories. By following stories for hundreds of pages, sometimes even over several books, our brains learn to turn this information from short term data into long term memories. And because the brain forms these neural pathways, we see memory retention increase in all areas of our lives. From being able to remember answers in an exam or never forgetting where we put those keys, a daily reading habit will strengthen your retention skills.
- Mental stimulation
Reading daily provides the brain with regular exercise. The more active our brains are the more productive it will be. Along with the benefits above, this exercise also helps in the long run by keeping away diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. There are several reasons for this. Reading keeps our brains enhanced and stimulated, which slows memory deterioration, improves mental flexibility, and keeps our cognitive functioning at overall higher levels. Further, researchers have found reading lowers the levels of a brain protein, beta-amyloid, which is seen in higher levels in Alzheimer’s patients.
- Stress reduction
Reading helps keep the brain calm and the mind relaxed. It does this by releasing hormones like serotonin, which is the hormone that helps keep anxiety at bay. While serotonin is generally attributed as a happiness hormone, it is also vital in cognitive processes like learning and memory. Serotonin is also important in combating cortisol, the stress hormone. By increasing serotonin production, we can lower the amount of cortisol, allowing our brains and bodies to work more efficiently.
What are you waiting for? Grab a book and stimulate your brain!