How Reading Impacts Your Brain – Visit Your Library!

Tellico Public Library

Tellico Village Public Library

















Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park is a complex, challenging novel read by millions. And now a recent collaboration between Stanford neurobiologists and English Postdoctorate Natalie Phillips suggests that complex novels such as Mansfield Park can activate key brain areas.

Casual versus critical reading

Researchers from the Stanford Center for Cognitive and Neurobiological Imaging took brain scans of several literary PhD students as they read a chapter from Mansfield Park. First, the PhD students were asked to read the book casually, for fun. Then students were asked to switch to a critical reading mode similar to how they might analyze it in a literature classroom

This switch in reading modes created a significant shift in brain activity patterns on MRI scans. Casual reading activated pleasure centers while critical reading increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the executive functions heavily involved in attending to tasks like reading.

Executive function and the brain

Executive function is responsible for more than just attentive reading: this brain function helps moderate how you divide your attention, use your working memory, and generally direct your brainpower. It plays a powerful role in decision-making.

While the findings of the Stanford study are preliminary, they make a good case for further research on the impact of reading on cognition. Philips posits that critical reading could serve as a type of training, “teaching us to modulate our concentration.”

There is other evidence that reading can be good for your brain. A 2007 study from the Center for Occupational and Environmental Neurology found that avid readers benefited from increased cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve is the concept that challenging intellectual activity — like reading or brain training — can protect the brain against negative cognitive impacts later in life.

 Invest in healthy habits

The studies on reading indicate that investing in intellectually challenging habits as early as possible can benefit your brain over the long term.

The Public Library at Tellico Village

The Public Library at Tellico Village is located in rural Loudon County, Tennessee. It is part of the Ocoee River Regional Library System and one of five libraries in Loudon County.

It is a full service public library that is open to all that live or work in the surrounding communities. There is no charge to receive a library card.  However patrons are encouraged to become a member of the Friends of the Tellico Village organization.

Loudon County libraries receive their funding from city taxes.  The Public Library of Tellico Village is not  located in an incorporated city, so it does not have a tax base for funding. The county provides the salaries for the libraries two paid part time employees. The Regional library provides technical support and one book lease program.  All other expenses are paid by the Friends of the Tellico Village Library. These expenses include mortgage, operating expenses and a second book lease program.

History of the Library

The Public Library at Tellico Village has its roots in the community of Tellico Village. In 1987 book lovers began a Book Club. That led to the creation of a small lending library furnished with 500 books from the Loudon County Library Board Regional Bookmobile.

Surveys circulated indicated an interest in a library. The Friends of the Tellico Village Library was incorporated in 1992 to manage and fund the fledging endeavor.  Three retired professional librarians volunteered to manage the library. In 1992 The Friends had 95 members. In 2012, the Friends’ membership numbered 1006 households.

Several moves later, each to larger facilities, the library changed its focus. The time had come to move from serving only the residents of Tellico Village. In 1997, The library became The Tellico Village Public Library to serve the residents of all the surrounding communities. In October 2012, the library moved into a 6554 square foot building financed through a special loan from the United States Rural Development Agency. The mortgage and operating expenses are the responsibility of the Friends of the Tellico Village Library.

Visit the Library online.

Posted: July 4, 2013