Literature is good for your brain. Well duh!

brainWhile it has always just been assumed that literature with rich language and metaphors is a good thing, science is now proving that fiction can in fact stimulate the brain and even trigger behavior modification. In 2006, Spanish researchers used an MRI to scan the brain of subjects while they read various types of words. They found that words associated with the senses, such as “coffee” or “perfume,” can trigger a response in the primary olfactory cortex.


French and Canadian researchers, using similar methods, have found that reading fiction rich in metaphor stimulates more than just sensory responses. The brain also interprets the social interactions of fictional characters as real-life, which helps explain how and why some readers react emotionally to what they read.


One wonders how long before savvy publishers instruct writers to deliberately load their writing with key words specially chosen to invoke emotional reactions. That tactic would not be new however. Political writers long ago discovered the value of inflammatory words to elicit emotional responses. In the computer world, search engine optimization (SEO), is a method of using key word embedding to elicit higher ranking results from internet search engines.


Perhaps one day fiction authors will have corporate sponsors as was done in the early days of radio and television.