From early childhood, we have been told that reading is an essential skill. But, have you ever wondered exactly why reading is touted as a must-do activity if you hope to stay healthy and mentally agile well into your old age? As it turns out, there are several reasons why this is true. Read on to discover just 3 of the neurological benefits of reading.
Reading staves off Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Want to stay mentally sharp for as long as possible? Pick up a good book. Studies show that mental stimulation – which occurs with activities like reading, solving a puzzle, or playing a game of chess – can slow the progress of and reduce the risks of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Why is this? Well, if you don’t challenge your mind frequently enough, you start to fall victim to synaptic pruning, which decreases neural pathways until some neural connections are completely lost. Stay sharp with reading and other mentally stimulating activities.
Reading improves your thinking skills.
Reading may seem like second nature to you, but it’s more neurologically demanding than you might expect. As you read, disparate parts of your brain — such as vision, language, and associative learning — work together. The resulting mental stimulation brought on by reading can help protect your thinking skills, particularly as you get older. Reading has also been shown to slow mental decline by improving overall cognitive flexibility.
Reading enhances your social skills.
You might think that reading makes you less socially inclined. But, contrary to popular belief, reading can actually sharpen your social skills, making you better equipped to handle the demands of personal interaction. It all comes back to what’s known as the “theory of mind,” which is defined by scientists as the ability to understand others’ mental states, beliefs, desires, and differing thoughts. Another study claims that people who read fiction exhibit more empathy than those who read nonfiction.
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