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Studies Suggest Reading Makes You Smarter

reading makes you smarter


It’s no surprise readers are brainy. They are smarter. They understand complex social relations. They make better decisions.

After all, they have been with dozens of souls and acquired collected wisdom from them all. 

They’ve learnt what it’s like to be a man, a woman, a child. They know what it’s like to experience pain, sorrow, and anguish. They’ve lived a hundred lives, witnessed the toughest of situations and came back to learn from each of them.  

They are wise beyond their years. 

If these sentences sound like an exaggeration, hold on. I’ve got a few studies to back them. 

Follow me as I share with you exactly what makes a reader smarter (scientifically):


Reading Enhances Social Skills 

(Journal Reference:  David Comer Kidd And Emanuele Castano. Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind. Science, October 2013)

When you read, your brain performs a lot of actions other than helping you understand the words on a page. Reading is a neurobiologically demanding process. It’s a neural workout. 

So, when you read, different parts of your brain work in sync -such as language, vision, and associative learning. Mental stimulation like reading not only strengthens your mental capacities, but also makes you understand other’s mental states, beliefs, differing thoughts, and desires – a skill essential to understand complex social relationships. 

Reading Helps You Make Rational Decisions

(Journal Reference: An fMRI study of modality effects and individual differences in language comprehension. Psychol Neurosci. 2009)

Stories activate areas in our brains that are responsible for strengthening our emotions and memory. They make us more empathetic and generous. But that’s not all:

According to a study, reading activates the following areas in our brains:

  • Medial Prefrontal Cortex: This part of brain mediates decision making.
  • Lateral Temporal Cortex: It is associated with core cerebral functions like language comprehension, visual processes, and facial recognition. 
  • Posterior Cingulate Cortex: It is involved with episodic memory recall.
  • Inferior Parietal Lobe: It helps us to understand our emotions and guides our reactions to them.

In all, reading helps us understand different emotions, respond to them, and also make rational decisions.

Reading Helps You Process Information Better 

(Journal Reference: Improving literacy skills through learning reading by writing: The iWTR method presented and tested. Science Direct: 2013)

There’s no doubt that reading improves every aspect of a person’s communication skills. Studies have proven that reading improves vocabulary, enhances sentence-structure abilities, and gives you confidence while speaking. 

But, recently, a study has confirmed that reading also helps a person process information more effectively – both visually and also verbally. Whereas, the people who don’t read often struggle to process verbal information. 

According to the study, linguistic information comprehension is associated with the activation of the brain’s cortex and people who read fiction show more activation of cortex. 

Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function

(Reference: Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. eScienceCommons: 2013)

According to a study, reading fiction improves brain functions on many levels. 

Across many experiments, the researchers discovered that being engrossed in long-form fiction enhances connectivity in the brain and strengthens its functions. 

It improves a person’s ability to flex the imagination, put themselves in different scenarios – which is same as the visualization of muscle memory in sports.

Readers are Not Just Smart… They’re Wise

Finally, I’d say that readers are more intelligent because of their ability to spot patterns. They have a higher cognitive function because they’ve witnessed a similar situation before (through stories). Plus, they have increased memory and vocabulary skills that help them communicate their ideas more effectively and thoroughly.

In all, reading rewires our brains for higher empathy and intelligence – the two most important ingredients we need to surf through life!