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More Brain Food, Please

Posted By Deborah Lambert On January 29, 2013 @ 10:56 am In Faculty Lounge | No Comments

British researchers recently demonstrated that the works of Shakespeare and Wordsworth are “rocket-boosters” to the brain and provide more therapeutic benefits than self-help books, according to The London Telegraph.

A group of “scientists, psychologists and English academics at Liverpool University discovered that reading the works of the Bard and other classical writers has a beneficial effect on the mind, catches the reader’s attention and triggers moments of self-reflection.”

Using scanners, “they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read works by William Shakespeare, William Wordsworth, T.S. Eliot and others. Then they updated the original works into more “straightforward” modern language and again monitored the readers’ brains as they read the words.”

Results showed that the original prose and poetry set off far more electrical brain wave movement than the modern versions. In fact, the newly awakened brain waves actually “lit up as the readers encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure.”

Furthermore, this “lighting up” of the mind lasted longer than the initial electrical spark, shifting the brain to a higher gear, encouraging further reading.

And reading poetry apparently triggers particular brain waves that help readers reflect on and “reappraise their own experiences in light of what they’ve read.”


Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column for Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org.


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