human brain seems to hum along quite nicely just using established patterns and
routine. However, it can easily do so much better with novelty and random
activity added to help build neuronal connections. In school we had to memorize
all sorts of stuff. Good for training our young minds, but just memorizing
poems, formulae, and dates wasn't enough to enable us to appreciate literature,
wonder at science, or gain historical perspective.
are not stuck with a static brain, nor are we necessarily stuck with a
deteriorating brain. Neuroscientists have discovered within the past twenty
years that an adult brain can regenerate brain cells. Almost seventy percent of
brain ageing is controllable, through mental and physical exercise, along with
diet. American neuroscientist Dr. Steven Miller, from the Scientific Learning
Corporation said, "The things you do, how much you write, what you do to
challenge your brain, actually decrease the chances of age-related memory loss."
Curiosity is the key to quality learning. To grow, the human brain needs to be
challenged. We've discovered most of what we know about how the brain learns in
the past decade, including that the pleasure center of the brain responds
strongly to the unexpected, and thus, that novelty can be a strategic tool for
training the brain.
does this have to do with reading fiction? Recent research at Baylor College of
Medicine and Emory University has helped explain why some people crave the
unexpected. Experiments have shown the brain's reward pathways responds more
strongly to unexpected than expected stimuli. This may help explain aspects of
addictive behavior such as gambling, risky decision-making, participation in
extreme sports, and yes, the joy of reading fiction. In learning new material,
the brain is challenged. That's a good thing because, of all our organs, the
brain is the only one that will continue to grow and develop if properly
nourished and stimulated. The more it is used, the better it becomes.
Mental stimulations make brain cells generate new extensions, resulting in
richer information processing. Reading fiction, especially ranging across
authors, pushes our boundaries as we vicariously experience fresh scenarios and
identify with the characters. No wonder they call them novels. Forcing us to
create the scenes, the look of the characters, the smells, and the sounds, and
prodding our emotions, reading fiction stimulates all of our senses and tweaks
our brain. Reading does this so much more than simply watching someone else's
interpretation on film or in a play.
the real world, it shows up in greater creativity. Smart business today is
looking for innovative thinkers, who can recognize changes in market patterns,
who strive for better processes and procedures. Progressive companies seek
leaders, not just followers.
what's the secret for keeping that brain active? Stay curious, collaborate with
others for different perspective, embrace chance opportunities, and push the