Get Reading: it can make you more intelligent
Absolutely, GET READING NOW, because it can make you a more intelligent individual. I hear ya: But, what to read?
I recently came across an interesting article in one of the main Spanish newspapers that claimed that reading actually can make you smarter. But not any kind of reading. I was amazed at the claim that fiction is better for your brain than non-fiction.
We all know, or should know, that reading is to our brain what physical exercise is to our muscles. But now we also know that there are certain genres AND formats that are actually better than others if you want to get smarter.
Psychologist Howard Gardner told us in the 90s that our intelligence is not a fixed trait that we are unable to modify. On the contrary, our intelligence is a compound of cognitive abilities that we can improve and develop… or they come become stagnant due to lack of exercise. This is what they call neuroplasticity, the ability of our neurons to increase the number of connections amongst them.
Reading is a key driver for our intelligence. Ayoze González, in charge of the Neurological Unit of the San Roque Hospital in Las Palmas, declares that even though our intelligence is partly determined by genetics, reading as often as possible is an excellent way to improve it significantly.
Get reading… fiction and in paper
If you were wondering about what genres or even formats are better to make you smarter through reading, you’re in the right place.
Are there any particular conditions which can promote the improvement of our brains? Some studies would claim that reading in a paper format has a positive impact on understanding, learning and communication abilities. It would appear that individuals who practise digital reading have more difficulty to be mentally transported to the world they are reading about or to identify themselves with the characters. This is probably related to the fact that reading on electronical devices causes more tiredness and it´s harder to maintain attention.
You can read more on Why Paper beats Digital reading on this Forbes article.
Genre is also important when it comes to the relationship between reading and the development of our cognition. There seems to be a connection between reading fiction and the ability to better understand people around us, their behaviour, intentions, emotions and beliefs. But don’t confuse this (mentallization) with empathy. The latter refers to the ability to feel, not only understand, what the other is feeling and it requires a higher capacity.
The article I read in El País also claims that popular fiction (bestsellers) are not as good for your brains as literary fiction.
Read the following article if you want to find out more about how reading fiction can make you smarter.
So now that you know the relationship between your intelligence and books, GET READING!
Do you read fiction or non-fiction? Why? Please do leave your comments!