Letter from the editor.


A STUDY ENTITLED "Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain" was published late last year in the journal Brain Connectivity, and it received quite a bit of coverage in the mainstream media. The research suggests that reading a novel increases connectivity in certain functional hubs of the brain and that this connectivity persists for days after the subjects have finished the novel. The study was by no means comprehensive: as Christian Jarrett, a cognitive neuroscientist writing for Wired magazine points out, there was no control group, the size of the connectivity changes was not reported, not much is known about the subjects' reading history, and there was no direct comparison to activities other than reading.

That didn't stop breathless headlines: "Books Help Improve Brain Functions for Days" in Parent Herald, "For a Better Brain, A Plan to Feed It Stories" in Forbes, and "Reading a Novel Exercises 'Muscles' in the Brain, Researchers Find" in the Los Angeles Times.

Oh, and the novel in the study? Pompeii by Richard Harris. It's a fine book: we gave it four stars back in the March/April 2004 issue. But it ain't...

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