Sunday, June 28, 2015

(Real) books and power of words

There’s nothing like the smell of old books or the crack of a new one’s spine. (Plus, you’ll never run low on battery.) And it turns out that diving into a page-turner can also offer benefits toward your health and happiness. Here are eight smart reasons to read a real book.

• It increases intelligence & it can boost your brain power.

• Reading can make you more empathetic.

Getting lost in a good read can make it easier for you to relate to others. Literary fiction, specifically, has the power to help its readers understand what others are thinking by reading other people’s emotions. The impact is much more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction. Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill that enables the complex social relationships that characterize human societies.

• Flipping pages can help you understand what you’re reading.

When it comes to actually remembering what you’re reading, you’re better off going with a book than you are an e-book. The feel of paper pages under your fingertips provides your brain with some context, which can lead to a deeper understanding and better comprehension of the subject you’re reading about.

• It may help fight Alzheimer’s disease.

Reading puts your brain to work, and that’s a very good thing. Those who who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their down time on less stimulating activities.

• Reading can help you relax.

It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination.

• Reading before bed can help you sleep.

Creating a bedtime ritual, like reading before bed, signals to your body that it’s time to wind down and go to sleep. Reading a real book helps you relax more than zoning out in front of a screen before bed. Screens like e-readers and tablets can actually keep you awake longer and even hurt your sleep.

• Reading is contagious.

Reading out loud to kids throughout their elementary school years may inspire them to become frequent readers — meaning kids who read five to seven days per week for fun.
Source: Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book

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Source: Words Can Change Your Brain

A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.

Positive words, such as “peace” and “love,” can alter the expression of genes, strengthening areas in our frontal lobes and promoting the brain’s cognitive functioning. They propel the motivational centers of the brain into action, according to the authors, and build resiliency.

Conversely, hostile language can disrupt specific genes that play a key part in the production of neurochemicals that protect us from stress. Humans are hardwired to worry — part of our primal brains protecting us from threats to our survival — so our thoughts naturally go here first.

However, a single negative word can increase the activity in our amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which in turn interrupts our brains’ functioning. (This is especially with regard to logic, reason, and language.)
Angry words send alarm messages through the brain, and they partially shut down the logic-and-reasoning centers located in the frontal lobes.

By holding a positive and optimistic [word] in your mind, you stimulate frontal lobe activity. This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action. And as our research has shown, the longer you concentrate on positive words, the more you begin to affect other areas of the brain. Functions in the parietal lobe start to change, which changes your perception of yourself and the people you interact with. A positive view of yourself will bias you toward seeing the good in others, whereas a negative self-image will include you toward suspicion and doubt. Over time the structure of your thalamus will also change in response to your conscious words, thoughts, and feelings, and we believe that the thalamic changes affect the way in which you perceive reality.

See: Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman “Words Can Change Your Brain

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