In The Writer's World

“I finally figured out why I am so drawn to mysteries,” my walking partner said the other morning as we slogged through a variety of meteorlogical events. “It’s the adrenaline rush.”

It’s not in her head, nor mine, nor yours for that matter. Most avid readers know that fiction changes us. Now, thanks to a New York Times article   (5. Your Brain on Fiction) published Sunday, March 18 we have a bit of scientific like ‘The singer had a velvet voice’…roused the sensory cortex.”

Alas, one’s brain does not receive this type of stimulation reading history or bdata that shows how and why this happens.

“What scientists have come to realize…is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains…suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive.” This explains everything! The research indicates that “Words like ‘cinnamon’ and ‘lavender’…elicit an olfactory response…” and “Metaphors iology texts. (No doubt this is why I found history classes so loathsome. It’s not because history is boring. It most certainly is not. But pedantic writing renders it unbearable.) It’s the metaphors, the descriptive prose, the action prose that makes the reader react, smell, taste, feel, be there.

The research revealed that when reading a highly charged action scene in a novel, the reader’s brain responds as if this actually was happening to her.

“The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated.” Thus, the adrenaline rush my friend describes.

It appears that fiction in and of itself actually opens the brain to new experiences. Some of the research credited fiction with helping readers learn qualities such as compassion. Reading novels can lead to understanding as to how to solve some of life’s little problems. And some of its larger ones too.

Who’da thought?

Well, those of us who voraciously read fiction have always known that something was going on…something important and meaningful and fun. And yet we felt guilty, as if some of us use reading as a drug, an escape from life’s petty miseries. If we do, so what? All things considered, it’s pretty harmless fun.

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