Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

The research, at Emory University in the United States, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory.

The changes were registered in the left temporal cortex, an area of the brain associated with receptivity for language, as well as the primary sensory motor region. These neurons have been associated with tricking the mind into thinking it is doing something it is not, a phenomenon known as grounded cognition.

For example, thinking about running can activate the neurons associated with the physical act.


"The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation and movement systems suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist," said neuroscientist Professor Gregory Berns, lead author of the study.

- The Independent