Researchers began the 19-day study by performing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on the students’ brains while they were in a resting state for the first five days of the study, before the subjects read Pompeii. Then, over the next nine days, the students read sections of about 30 pages from the novel each day. They took quizzes to prove comprehension and were scanned throughout the reading process. After completing the book, the subjects underwent the fMRI for another five days.
What the scientists found confirmed what they had suspected. There was a measurable impact on brain connectivity in the left temporal cortex of the brain, which among other functions is responsible for processing sensation, emotion, visual memory, and meaning.
Such a finding would be expected; after all, everything humans do is processed through the brain. What really mattered, however, was that the neuroscientists were able to pinpoint lasting changes in their subjects’ brains, even after they had finished the novel. “We call that a ‘shadow activity,’ almost like a muscle memory,” Berns told the university.
Researchers noted a flurry of activity in the central sulcus, which is the part of the brain that translates inputs into physical sensations. This means that by simply thinking, for example, about falling, leaping, or escaping, the students could experience those impulses as if they were actually performing those actions.
Pretty cool article isn’t it? Imagine all the things we are implanting into that brain of ours. All the sensation, emotions and actions. It is fascinating it has a lasting impact though. Mind you, a good book has a lasting impact on Me.