The fact is reading impacts the brain from the earliest stage of one’s development and continues throughout one’s life.
Kenneth R. Samples, writing on the website reasons.org in his reflection on reading, writes thus:
In a conversation on the accomplishments to be desired in the ideal woman, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy comments, “And to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.”
It seems that, for both genders, “extensive reading” of literary classics invigorates the brain-mind. Stanford researchers used brain-imaging technology to investigate what happens in the brain when people read Austen for pleasure and for analysis. Writer Corrie Goldman reports,
In an innovative interdisciplinary study, neurobiological experts, radiologists and humanities scholars are working together to explore the relationship between reading, attention and distraction—by reading Jane Austen.
Surprising preliminary results reveal a dramatic and unexpected increase in blood flow to regions of the brain beyond those responsible for “executive function,” areas which would normally be associated with paying close attention to a task, such as reading, said Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar leading the project.
Both types of reading activate the human brain, but in different regions. Reading analytically shows increased activity in the prefrontal cortex and the researchers found that thinking vigorously about the novel’s content produced noticeable benefits. Phillips believes the results of the study could suggest “it’s not only what we read—but thinking rigorously about it that’s of value, and that literary study provides a truly valuable exercise of people’s brains.”