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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014
Reading therapy
PP Wangchuk
March 18, 2013
First Published: 23:28 IST(18/3/2013)
Last Updated: 23:30 IST(18/3/2013)

Human brain must be the most complex thing one can think of. And hence, understanding it becomes as difficult. We know very little of its working. How to keep it in “high gear” by rescuing it from the lows it goes into quite often can’t be in everybody’s easy grasp.

Being the master controller of everything that we do, the brain keeps our morale and mood high or low depending on the circumstances we are placed in.

But there are ways on how to keep it in good humour during stressful times.

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that serious literature catches readers’ attention and triggers moments of self-reflection that could have huge impact in keeping one in good humour. Shakespeare and Wordsworth are among many other literary giants mentioned as “tools of therapy” in moral boosting .

The researches monitored the brain activities of those put to read serious literature both in their original, tough and challenging form as well as in their easier and modern translation.

The result: The more challenging original books “set the brain into more electrical activity than the pedestrian versions”. And more electrical activity meant greater uplift of the readers’ mood.

Exposure to English classic works meant that the readers were able to shift their brains to a higher gear and they showed greater interest for more, very cheerfully.

That means that reading habits, of good literature, should be cultivated in order to keep a cheerful attitude even through challenging times. Such books also build up one’s positive attitude towards life.

Perhaps it was in this context that poet Sherman Alexie said, “If one reads enough books, one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chance of survival increases with each book one reads.”


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