Enriching Intelligence

How Does Reading and Writing Positively Affect Human Brains?

Executive Summary

Just by simply reading this sentence you are exercising millions of brain cells that will later aid in a multitude of activities you participate in. Research shows a correlation with literacy and improved brain function in the frontal and occipital lobes. This leads to the conclusion that reading and writing significantly benefit humans brains and the recommendation to participate in these two activities for at least 30 minutes per day.


By just reading my research you are taking advantage of the many things reading and writing aid your brain in. Since the first written language in 900 BC, humans have benefited from writing and reading in many ways; we were able to document receipts of goods, understand these writings at a later date (showing symbol consistency), and be able to communicate complex ideas with one another strengthening social bonds. These actions still benefit humans today, as my research concludes. In order to maximize on these benefits, I recommend every literate person read and write for 30 minutes each day, and every illiterate person to attempt to learn this needed skill.


Writing and Your Brain

Evidence from studies has shown that writing is a process that uses and improves several areas of the human brain; visual, motor, cognitive, and perceptive parts of the brain are exercised with writing. Perception allows one to remember letter shapes while sight and motor skills of the hand enable the physical motion (Shah).

Researchers in Spain did a study on how the brain reacted to several different types of words. They found that common figures of speech such as "a rough day" have become so familiar to our brains that they are interpreted as words but no more. These may have evoked a response in the brain when they were first used, but since the reader has seen them many times they no longer have the same effect ("How Does Writing").

Reading and Your Brain

A neuroscientist by the name of Stanislas Dehaene publishes a study on the extensive impact reading has on the brain. He preformed this study with 31 Brazilian adults who had learned to read at an early age, 22 adults who learned at an adult age, and 10 illiterate adults. This study was preformed by using "functional magnetic resonance imaging" to measure these peoples brain functions while responding to oral, written, and visual tasks. Stanislas found that the regions of the brain used to process visual information was enhanced in both set of adult readers. He also found that listening skills were also highly affected by literacy as these groups had the ability to perceive speech sounds more accurately. The visual stimulation of reading exercises the occipital lobe which helps with imagination, creativity, and decision-making (Dehaene). As seen in figure 1, reading helps many areas of the brain.
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Fig. 1 How The Brain Reads


It is easy to see from the research done how reading and writing positively benefit every humans brain. This research also helps to explain many important things in the education arena, the most important being the implications on children who struggle to read. As research suggests, the ability to read helps build brain parts that are essential to listening and observing; students who struggle to read may also have problems learning from auditory classroom instruction as well. Thus they are hampered in 3 ways: they cannot read, so will not be able to learn to read, and may struggle just as much with other forms of instruction. This is unfortunate but must be recognized early as to best aid the child in their education career.

If you are fortunate to have learned this key skill, then my recommendation is simply to use this skill daily. Only with its use will you reap the benefits. Be able to see things sharper, move with more dexterity, and finally be able to lend your partner that listening ear they've been requesting all with just 30 minutes of reading and writing per day. Feed your brain some words and stories and it will treat you kindly back.


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Anaya Saydjk

Professor Megan Elston


May 8, 2016