It is free, does not require special equipment, can be done almost anywhere and at any time and its benefits are increasingly known and impressive. We are talking about reading. It is obvious that reading makes us smarter by allowing us to acquire more knowledge, but that is just scratching the surface.
A study conducted with children aged eight to ten found that reading creates more white matter in the brain. The color by which white matter is distinguished from gray matter is partly due to myelin, responsible for accelerating communication between neurons. White matter is mainly formed by the axons of neurons, and the highway through which information travels when reading improves communication throughout the nervous system and also helps to process information more efficiently.
One of the studies, published in Neuroimage has found that language affects regions of the brain that involve actions we are reading about. For example, when we read “cinnamon” or “lavender”, the brain regions responsible for processing smell are immediately activated, but when we read “chair” or “window,” the same areas become mute. “Leather chair”? Your sensory cortex has just activated. In synthesis: reading trains your senses, at least that of smell. And it does so at a level you can’t imagine, since it doesn’t even require the reference to be literal. This is shown by another study, published in Brain and Language, in which volunteers had to read metaphors related to texture.
If reading in your own language has enormous benefits, adding another multiplies them. An analysis states that reading in another language increases the processing capacity of the regions involved in space navigation and learning new information.
But there is even more: a Stanford University research showed a neurological difference between pleasure reading and concentrated or learning reading. Depending on which of the two we are carrying out, blood flows to different neuronal areas.
And not everything happens in the brain. A recent survey conducted jointly by Kindle (Amazon) and the Kelton Global firm, among more than 27,000 people from 13 countries (including Spain), shows how significant reading can be in our lives. For example: reading increases happiness. According to the data, almost 3 out of four regular readers said they were happy, against 55% of non-readers. If you read, two out of three people consider you more attractive and 41% said that 41% of talking about books was one of the things that made them fall in love with their partner.
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