Fiction works are written from the imaginations of writers. The fantasies of the writer come alive in the words that are put down on paper. The best fiction stories are those that are shaped by some research in real-life events, occurrences and technologies that are then used in a fictional way. Some fiction works are also written to explain phenomena that is puzzling or other occurrences that have remained mysterious over the years.
It is not very interesting to read fictional stories that go overboard in their plots. Some authors write works that tend to border on lunacy such as ogre stories in a modern society setting or occurrences of intelligent undocumented animals. Such are stories that would not serve to influence the thinking of readers or offer a new perspective of evaluating things.
Conspiracy fictional works are easily the most loved and widely read of all works of fiction. Readers love these works because they offer explanations to events that have baffled people for a long time. They also trigger the minds of readers to conceptualize new technologies, gadgets, and scenarios that are affected by innovative ways of thinking and doing things.
Reading fiction is beneficial to readers in several ways. Scientists say that reading a gripping novel and being immersed in its world leads to increased connectivity in the brain for up to five days. The changes are measurable for up to five days after one finishes reading the novel.
Scientists from Emory University, USA discovered that reading a good book leads to heightened brain connectivity and neurological changes that linger in a manner similar to muscle memory. Neural changes associated with physical sensation and movement systems implied that one can be transported into the protagonist’s body by reading a novel.
In the study, 21 students were given the novel Pompeii to read. The novel is noted for its thrilling plot. The 2003 novel by Robert Harris follows the story of a protagonist who is outside the city of Pompeii and then notices some steam and strange activity around the volcano. The novel shows true events in a dramatic and fictional way and has a strong narrative line.
The students read the book in the evenings for 19 days in portions and then were subjected to daily fMRI scans. For up to five days, the scans showed residual activity thereby showing that the impact was not only an immediate action but also had a lasting influence. The professor calls this ‘shadow activity’ that is similar to muscle memory.
Another effect apart from cognitive benefits is that the reader of a good intriguing fiction work gets an enhanced social perception of things. The reader gets an open mind and learns to be willing to appreciate new social occurrences and events. The emotional intelligence of the reader is also improved. Emotional intelligence alludes to the ability of the person to read the emotions of others and those of himself, and then react accordingly so that they do not end up hurting others. Having a good emotional intelligence also helps in building and sustaining good inter-personal relationships.
The third effect is an increase in empathy. A reader of fiction (and sometimes the author too) gets absorbed into the story as it unfolds. There is usually an antagonist and a protagonist in fiction stories. The reader will in most cases take sides with the character who is persecuted in the story or the one who faces the worst odds in the fiction story. This empathetic feeling is what gradually leads to the development of greater empathy by the reader. It is very much possible that greater absorption in a story leads to greater development of the empathetic feeling and social acumen.
Well, there you have it. It is said figuratively that reading a good book can put you in the main character’s shoes, and now scientists are telling us that it is not only physical but also biological too.