Independent, Monday 30 December 2013


Recent research suggests reading an exciting plot sparks neurons associated with physical activity so that your brain believes you’re actually taking part as you read.

It suggests what readers have known for a while: that good writing puts you into the heart of the action, as if you’re actually there. How many times have you read a book and ended up out of breath? Crying? Laughing? Angry?

It’s only a small study, but it suggests all sorts of follow-ups:

  • does this happen with other forms of storytelling or just books?
  • are books are more powerful than films because they have a direct link to our brains, without an intermediary?
  • can people physically experience activities in their minds even if they’ve never experienced this activity before in real life?
  • how will storytelling forms evolve in reaction to this continuing research?
  • and most importantly, can we encourage young people to read more with this information in mind?