Sign in: Staff/Students
Experiments conducted by the University of Liverpool’s Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society (CRILS) have found that literary reading could help increase mental flexibility.
Reading literature is encouraged as an activity because it is thought to be of benefit to mental health and wellbeing, but very little is known about how reading can do this.
The CRILS research team, Professor Philip Davis, Dr Josie Billington, Professor Rhiannon Corcoran and Dr Noreen O’Sullivan, conducted a series of experiments using functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) to analyse the brain activity of 24 people reading poetry or literature with poetic effects.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging is a neuroimaging procedure using MRI technology that measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow.
Mental flexibility is the ability of a person to shift a course of thought or action according to the changing demands of a situation. It allows an individual to abandon a previous response set or pattern in order to generate an alternative that is better suited to the requirements of the situation at hand.
The experiment explored the capacity of the participants to process and derive meanings in complex poetic and prosaic texts that either did or did not require significant reappraisal during reading.
Improved mental wellbeing
Following this, participants rated each piece on its ‘poeticness’ and the extent to which it prompted a reappraisal of meaning during reading. The scans showed increased activity and connectivity of specific brain networks associated with switching thoughts.
Professor Philip Davis, said: “The research found that the sustained experience of reading poems might be expected to challenge rigid expectancies and fixed thoughts and to increase mental flexibility through the process of the reappraisal of meaning and the acceptance of fresh meanings, a process that was experienced as intrinsically rewarding.
“This is especially promising since the activated areas of the brain that provided a sense of reward in the very process of activisation is known to be particularly under-vitalised in those suffering from depression.”
The full study, entitled ‘“Shall I compare thee”: The neural basis of literary awareness, and its benefits to cognition’, can be found here.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
All recent news
Institute of Irish Studies’ first Artist in Residence, Fion Gunn brings exhibition to VG&M
Without a fresh new vision, the next Conservative prime minister risks leading their party to election loss
Student Excellence Awards launched by The Pandemic Institute
Social Value Project provides new look for the Greenbank College Canteen
There's still a few days left to see our own Professor Tom Solomon @RunningMadProf performing his 'Covid for Kids' show at #EdinburghFringe!
All the details + booking info for the final few tickets here ➡️ https://www.pleasance.co.uk/event/covid-kids#overview
“I expect them [dog bites] to keep increasing. Unless there is a fundamental change in our relationships to dogs or some sort of over-arching legislative change that will come in," says Dr John Tulloch @JT_EpiVet https://inews.co.uk/news/mystery-over-dog-bite-increase-as-incidents-double-in-the-past-20-years-1778116
An important new project funded by @ukhomeoffice led by @LCritical and @LivUniPsyc researchers lworking with @NCA_UK are developing online child protection tools supporting law enforcement agencies to safeguard children. Read more at @livuninews here: https://tinyurl.com/livunisafeguardchildren