Building Brain Fitness
How much has your screen time increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic? Even putting Zoom meetings to one side, there’s a fair chance we’re all spending a significant amount more time skimming, scrolling and swiping than previously. (And let’s not even talk about the impact of Tik Tok.)
In fact, this study from late 2020 estimated the amount of time we’re spending on screens globally has, on average, doubled from 3hrs 17min to 6hrs 59min. While in Australia, broadcast video on demand consumption grew by 39% year on year. And the net result of all this is we’re reading less. A lot less.
Sure, we might be getting a good fill of intellectual meanderings from listening to Malcolm Gladwell and Ira Glass podcasts, but according to the latest in neuroscience research, reading – and that means actual books, not just skimming your social feeds – can significantly rewire your brain.
Depending on whether you’re curling up for hours with a ripping yarn or doing more of a sprint read, the benefits can include:
- An empathy workout – a short-term EQ boost that comes from taking on perspectives from different characters
- Increased ability to focus and capacity to grasp complex ideas
- Greater retention of detail
- Plus of course a heightened imagination
And this doesn’t even begin to touch on the associated mental health benefits of taking time out with a good book to reduce stress and cortisol levels.
But like any fitness regime, you need to stick at it. Reading less not only means you’re not strengthening your brain, you’re actually reducing these essential abilities. Maybe you don’t need to know your occipital temporal region from your corpus callosum, but do know that those obsessive readers around you are not simply accumulating information, they’re also building their brains to be functionally smarter.
Better input always leads to greater outcomes
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