Want super intelligence? Read a good novel!

Super Michael Collins Memoirs and writingHave you ever been so absorbed in a novel that you’re still thinking about a particular character while you’re having a coffee or driving somewhere the next day? Or wished you could be reading on instead of working? Of course you have. Isn’t it amazing how much detail we can recall from a novel – detail that lives on in our mind’s eye – compared to a non-fiction book?
MichaelSuper  Collins Memoirs and writingAnthony Carboni, in his video (below), looks at why we inherently remember stories more easily than non-fiction or bullet point facts. Whether we’re reading or listening, the brain likes to find patterns and meanings, and stories are a natural medium for this. Children who have stories read to them, and who can read, are usually hooked on books for life, aren’t they?

Reading stories activates certain parts of our brain. For example, hearing or reading about running lights up the mental cortex of our brain, taking us through the mental exercise involved in running. I knew there was a better way to exercise … just read about doing it! (Anthony didn’t say that, by the way.)
Michael Collins Memoirs and writingStories are also easier to remember because the way our brain works causes us to experience the story. This can also lead to lasting changes in our brain function. Hmm, does Hannibal Lecter’s creator have something to answer for here?

Incredibly, functional MRI studies show vastly higher activity in the temporal cortex and central sulcus areas of the brain which control language and motor skills for five days after reading a novel for only one day. That’s where the super intelligence bit comes in.

Good literary fiction (the research makes a clear distinction here) has also been found to be important in the development of empathy. Now that can’t be a bad thing, can it?

What are you reading? How do you feel if you don’t have time to read? I remember one successful novelist stating that he never, ever read anyone else’s work because it would affect his writing style. What do you think about that?



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