I’ve always loved to read. Fiction was my world of escape. As an adult, I’ve found I have less and less time to read fiction, usually only before bed or on my free Sundays. With the whole ‘be active’ movement, sometimes you feel that spending 3-4 hours with a book is a bit couch potatoe-ish- you should be up doing something. Not anymore. A new study out of Washington University in St Louis, USA has shown that when we read fiction we are actually simulating the action of the characters in our brains. We take what we are reading and combine it with our own experiences and our brain believes that we are actually part of the action.
In an article on Pysorg.com, the researchers found that areas of our brain respond to the action in the book.
“For example, changes in the objects a character interacted with (e.g., "pulled a light cord") were associated with increases in a region in the frontal lobes known to be important for controlling grasping motions. Changes in characters' locations (e.g., "went through the front door into the kitchen") were associated with increases in regions in the temporal lobes that are selectively activate when people view pictures of spatial scenes.”
I am so relieved. I can go back to my childhood of whiling away days with books and feel no more guilt. Perhaps I should read more books with characters running a marathon or participating in a triathlon- God knows my bum could use the exercise.