How Reading Shakespeare And Wordsworth Offer Better Therapy Than Self-Help Books

This article originally appeared on The Daily Mail site.

He wrote that the ‘human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants’.

And it appears that simply reading those words by William Wordsworth prove his point.

Reading challenging works by the greatest writers in the English language such as Shakespeare’s King Lear and Philip Larkin’s poetry provides a ‘rocket-boost’ to the brain that cannot be matched by more simplistic modern books, research suggests.

Researchers at the University of Liverpool found the prose of Shakespeare and Wordsworth and the like had a beneficial effect on the mind, providing a ‘rocket-boost’ to morale by catching the reader’s attention and triggering moments of self-reflection.

Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read pieces of classical English literature both in their original form and in a more dumbed-down, modern translation.

And, according to the Sunday Telegraph, the experiment showed the more ‘challenging’ prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the pedestrian versions.

The academics were able to study the brain activity as readers responded to each word, and noticed how it ‘lit up’ as they encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure.

This reaction of the mind lasted longer than the initial electrical spark, shifting the brain to a higher gear and encouraging further reading.

Read the rest of the article, which also includes brain scan images, on The Daily Mail site.

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