The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. "Reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” According to the article in The New York Times: "Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica... The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing,so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters. ... Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined."
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