New studies using an MRI machine to track the flow of blood in the brain show how close reading of literacy texts increases multiple complex cognitive functions.
In this experiment, participants were asked to alternate between reading sections of Jane Austin for pleasure and for literacy analysis. It was noted that both types of reading stimulated a flow of blood in the brain, although to different sections, and in the latter case, this was significantly higher.
This study indicates the importance of using literary analysis, or close reading of texts, as a form of cognitive training. It also gives a far richer perspective on the brain’s response to the arts.