Are Books Superior to TV?

There’s a perception that books are good, while TV is bad. Spend a day curled up with a book and you’re an intellectual, but spend a day watching your favorite show and you become a couch potato.

Similar to how candy gives you cavities and sun tanning is bad for our skin, it’s common knowledge that reading books is good for you. It increases your knowledge and makes you think. Watching television on the other hand kills off brain cells.

But why is that? Why can’t watching TV be just as educational as reading a book?

A study was done on how reading a novel affected the brain. Gregory Berns and his colleagues at Emory University wanted to see the before and after effects of reading based on fMRI readings. Dr. Berns is a NS faculty member.

College students were asked to read Pompeii by Robert Harriss, a thriller based on the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in Italy. The book was chosen due to its strong narration and a dramatic plot based on true events.

After reading the novel, the students had increased connectivity in parts of the brain that were related to language. There was also increased activity in the sensory motor region of the brain, suggesting that readers experienced similar sensations to the characters in the book.

Click here to view the full story in the New York Observer.