How Reading Helps The Brain – Six Benefits
There are a lot of things you can do to stimulate your brain and increase your cognitive function, but one of the easiest ways to improve your brain is to simply read. Reading provides you with a lot of benefits, although with the improvements in technology, it seems people have been reading less over the years. The older you get the more you need to be working out your brain, due to the natural loss of function and ability in your brain, which can hinder your quality of life. Here are six ways that reading helps your brain, which might make you more inclined to read a book over playing a quick game of Candy Crush.
Improves Your Memory
One of the biggest ways that reading can impact your brain in a positive way is that reading can significantly improve your memory. When you read books, you are often introduced to a variety of characters that come from numerous backgrounds and all have different problems or personality traits. As you progress through the book, you often are recalling information that you learned from the beginning such as where the characters are from or why they are behaving in a certain manner, and it’s something you don’t even think about as you go along. The more you read books, the more likely you are to be able to remember facts in real life, because you have exercised your brain to recall and store information for later use. The most important aspect of this is that reading is improving your short term memory, which means that you will be able to better take in information and recite it soon after your brain has processed and stored that information. You can use this new expansion in short term memory gain to help you study for tests and remember the information the next day on the test or remember where you put your keys when you got home.
Improves Critical Thinking Skills
When you are reading a book, you have to do a lot of sorting through information to find the facts and figure out what or who is not being truthful. You also have to think a lot about the protagonist and antagonist when it comes to problem solving and conflict, which is all important for improving critical thinking skills. Now, obviously you cannot get these important critical thinking skills if you sit there and just quickly skim the book page-by-page, so you only get this benefit if you are fully engaged in the book. Critical thinking skills are most improved with genres where you need to figure out who did something wrong, such as a murder mystery, crime thriller or drama. If you read books continuously, you will notice that you can quickly pick up the truth from within the first few chapters of the book. These same skills will also allow you to later be able to have an intelligent conversation about the book or the characters with other people and breakdown the plot or conflict from within the story.
Increase Empathy Towards Others
If you are someone who really gets into books and delves into the characters and feels like you’re part of the story, this is because you are feeling empathy for the characters in the book. This same feeling of empathy translates into real life and ends up physically altering your brain to become more responsive to the needs and feelings of others. You will notice that if you begin reading books regularly, you will have a better and easier time feeling empathy towards others, which is important for being able to maintain or start interpersonal relationships. You might notice that if you read a book about a little child growing up in an abusive household you will start being more empathetic in reality towards children or people who have been abused. This change in your brain which allows you to expand or gain empathy is something people don’t even realize is happening, although others around that person might notice the change right away. This change is also good because it can help you become more aware of your environment, which means if something is wrong or someone is doing something horrible, you will have a more gut feeling sense about it.
Improves Your Knowledge
One thing about reading is that it has the ability to expand and improve your knowledge, and it’s being done in a fun and entertaining manner as opposed to just siting in a classroom. If you read a lot of books about how things are made or how people become successful, then it’s pretty likely you will take this information and use it in your own life. There are a lot of varieties of books out there that can help you learn something new, such as books that teach you how to play an instrument or a new language, and even learn how to do computer programming. When you begin reading these types of books, you will be able to learn about these topics, which then enable you to possibly use that knowledge one day in a related situation. You can also learn information from these books such as how different cultures interact with each other or the history of a religion or culture, even if it’s not a book specific about that topic. This is why it’s important that when you read a book of a certain type, you then move into reading a different type of book because this helps expand your knowledge.
Increases White Matter
A lot of people don’t actually understand that your brain actually physically can change just by reading a book, and one way it can change is by expanding white matter over time. White matter is a crucial part of the learning center in the brain, so this is essentially how all the other benefits of reading come to happen. If people stick to a regular reading routine, then after a few months, the white matter in the brain will begin expanding, and you might notice your ability to comprehend language increases. The change in white matter isn’t something you will physically see or feel unless you have a brain scan done, but don’t discount that it’s still happening even though you can’t see it.
Can Decrease Dementia
Dementia is a medical condition that a lot of people within their older years are afflicted with, and it’s a progressive degenerative brain disease which will eventually lead to death. While reading books does not stop dementia from occurring, it can reduce the risk that you will develop dementia, due to the fact your brain is constantly working out. When you are reading, you are basically exercising your brain and working out different muscle groups of the brain, which is something that is vital to keep your brain functioning optimally. As you get older, it’s even more important to read because your brain naturally degenerates over time, which means that various parts of your brain begin losing the ability to work properly. Even if you do have the beginning stages of dementia, you can still lessen the effects of the symptoms of the disease by reading books, which can help keep the disease from progressing as quickly.