小説を読むと脳が活性化、実際に身体も登場人物になりきっていることが判明


最近の研究で、小説を読むと脳の左側頭葉に変化が見られることがわかってきた。米アトランタ州ジョージアにあるエモリー大学では、在校生21人を対象に19日間にわたってMRI検査を実施した。


"コーヒー"や"香水"などのキーワードが登場すると脳の嗅覚を司る部分の脳神経細胞が活発になり、しかも一時的にだけでなく長期的に影響が見られたという。興味深いのは、言語中枢が刺激されるのもちろんのこと、それ以外の部分も刺激に反応したという点だろう。例えば水泳についての文を読むと、実際に水泳を行っているときに似た反応が脳の中でみられたというのだ。

「優れた小説を読むと、まるで小説の中に入り込んで登場人物になったかのような気持になるということがある。これが例えではなく、実際に人間が肉体的に小説に反応しているということが証明された」(研究者談)

さらに、読了後も脳の刺激を受けた部分は活性化されることがわかってきている。その持続期間はまだ判明しておらず、更なる研究が必要とのことだが、読書の習慣化による脳への刺激が有効なのは間違いなさそうだ。

ネットやゲーム、あるいはマンガなどの普及によって読書、とりわけ小説の人気が落ちてきたとも言われる昨今。しかし活字には活字の、他の娯楽では得られない何かがやはりあるようだ。

【参照リンク】
・Study: Reading a Novel Changes Your Brain
http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/01/study-reading-a-novel-changes-your-brain/282952/

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