Reading and Cognitive Function
Books can support your brain health.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which means there’s no time like the present to discuss the relationship between reading and cognitive function. Of course, it’s already known that reading helps the cognitive development of young children, but what about its effects later in life? Is there a link between reading and delaying the onset of diseases like Alzheimer’s? Let’s take a look at a few of the facts.
Reading Exercises the Brain
Reading requires a strong short-term memory in order to recall characters, settings, events, and the like. There is evidence to suggest that using your brain supports nerve cell growth and may prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s. Because of its mentally engaging nature, this suggests that while there isn’t any known cure, reading could serve to slow the disease’s onset.
The act of reading exercises several important parts of the brain, especially those involved in speech comprehension, speech production, emotional and cognitive functions, and even the creation of white matter. White matter, which is responsible for linking together neurons into a single working unit, essentially allows the brain to function properly. Needless to say, having normal white matter levels in the brain is essential for preventing or delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s, so maintaining these levels through reading could have some incredible benefits.
Reading Promotes Brain Health
Reading has also been shown to reduce stress levels, heart rate, and muscular tension. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that high levels of stress can expedite the progression of Alzheimer’s disease but that taking time to relax can slow its progression. With the stress-reducing and mood-boosting benefits that reading provides, reading before bed can also improve the quality of your sleep, another known factor in slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s.
Doctors recommend working reading into your everyday routine, even if it’s just a small amount. Just a few minutes a day can have a positive effect on your health, but around thirty minutes a day is ideal if you can spare the time.
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Make Reading More Available
Simply put, there are a huge number of benefits that come with reading, from a more nuanced worldview to direct positive impacts on one’s health. We believe that reading is a human right, so we founded EveryLibrary to protect, promote, and support libraries. If you’d like to learn more about what we do, feel free to visit www.everylibrary.org to learn more about our work on behalf of libraries.
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