Could you give up reading for a week? That’s what Bibi van der Zee did. She wrote about it in yesterday’s Guardian. She was beginning to wonder if books were eating her up and whether they were some kind of drug.
I just can’t imagine not reading for that length of time. If I go for one day without reading I start to feel irritable and in need of a book, so perhaps it is a drug of sorts. She discovered this startling information about the effect of reading on the brain.
In a book coming out next year about the psychology of fiction, Professor Keith Oatley describes a piece of research where scientists got people to read while they were in a brain scanner. “When readers were engaged in a story, the researchers found that, at the points in which the story said a protagonist undertook an action, the part of the brain which was activated was the part which the reader himself or herself would use to undertake the action. So, when the story- protagonist pulled a light cord, a region in the frontal lobes of the reader’s brain associated with grasping things was activated.”
I shan’t be giving up reading and I must look out for that book.