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TED Talk: Why Reading Matters

In this TED Talk starring Rita Carter she talks about how there is one thing that can make us all a better person and that is reading. She isn't talking about the important reading we do all the time for education and that sort, but the reading we do to learn stories and fiction. This kind of reading is seen as "not useful", as she tells about her father ripping a story out of her hands and telling her to read something that will teach her something instead. She argues that fiction IS important in ways we might have not expected. She even has science to back it up, telling of studies where people had to read different types of literature and then had to "read" people's facial expressions. This led to the people who read fiction and stories being able to read the people's faces much easier. This shows how much more empathy we can gather from reading. Rita also talks about a reading group she joined that was for people with mental illnesses. This group had not only had their life changed from reading fiction but one member of the group even had their life saved from it. So, what happens in the brain that makes reading change us like this? Well, we make neural pathways in our brain and we develop these when we learn how to read. They don't develop in one part of the brain like speech, they develop in many parts of the brain and when you read about certain actions, those parts of the brain become active. There was a study done where a group of people had to read a book every night and after every night they would get a brain scan and it showed that their brain was very active all over, not just in the speech area. Showing us that when reading the brain really works itself out, really living the experience they were reading. In conclusion, work your brain out, read some fiction!

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