How a good book really does get inside your head

A good novel can bring about brain changes in readers during and after the time they read a book.

Researchers at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia asked 21 students to read the novel Pompeii by Robert Harris while monitoring their brains activity with MRI scans.

Watch out for the spoiler alert in the chart if you haven’t read the book or know the historical details.

The somewhat confusing chart shows five days wash-in before the students started reading the book designed to show a normal level of brain activity.

Over the next nine days, they read one-ninth of the novel every evening and scans were made the next morning. Changes were shown in the brain regions associated with perspective and story comprehension, as you might expect. Increases in connectivity and activity continued during the wash-out period after the students finished reading the book.

The research doesn’t, however, say how many stars the readers would give Pompei.