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How Reading Fiction Makes You a Better Person

Did you know that reading fiction doesn't just make you smarter, but it actually makes you a better person? Emory University conducted research in 2013 that involved the study of fiction readers' brains. They compared those brains to the brains of people who DID NOT read, and they found that people who read fiction have more activity in certain parts of the brain. The increased activity was discovered in the left temporal cortex, the part of the brain that handles language comprehension. However, activity in the central sulcus of the brain was also heightened. The central sulcus is responsible for the visualization of movement (daydreaming, picturing yourself doing activities, etc.). Basically, reading helps you to picture yourself in that book, and you can take on the emotions that the characters within the book are feeling. Another study--also conducted in 2013--found that people who read fiction tend to empathically connect with the characters in the books more. This then allowed them to connect empathically with the people they interacted with on a regular basis. Yet another study found that reading literary fiction (not popular fiction) enabled people to understand facial emotions ONLY by looking at the eyes. Those who read literary fiction scored 10% more highly on tests than those who read pop fiction or nothing at all. Basically, it means that people who read fiction--and literary fiction, in particular--tend to be more empathetic towards other people, can understand them better, and have enhanced brain function compared to people who don't read. As if we needed any more reason to read!