Mon, 14 Jan 2013 13:17 UTC
Scientists at Liverpool University have monitored the brain activity of a number of volunteers while they were reading works by William Shakespeare, T.S Eliot and others, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Then the original texts were altered and "translated" to simpler modern language and given to the readers again.
The data recorded during reading both versions of the text proved that the more "sophisticated" the language in both prose and poetry the more electrical activity the reader's brain showed.
Scientists tracked the brain activity caused by certain words and saw that unusual words and complicated sentence structures stimulated the brain.
"Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain. The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike," The Daily Telegraph quotes Professor Philip Davis involved in the study as saying.
According to the study poetry particularly stimulates activity in the right hemisphere of the brain responsible for self-reflection, creativity and imagination.
"Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive," Professor Davis said.
Sophisticated and unusual words in the text also prompted better concentration of the reader after they've come across these words.
The researchers' conclusion that reading the classics is better and more useful for the mind than easy-reads might not be a surprise to many avid readers.