NYT: Your Brain on Fiction
In my recent Amazon review of Son In Sorrow, I express how I felt like I was really there, experiencing [the story and its characters] first hand. Today, I saw an article on in the New York Times called Your Brain on Fiction, which is about what happens in the brain when we read.
- 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...Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.
The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters.
So, here we have a clear and science-based explanation for why reading makes us feel like we're IN the story, and why it can be good for us.