According to Neuroscience….yes it can. I recently came across an article on “Psychology Today” that explored this very subject. I’ve often said that reading has incredible benefits to society and science backs me up on that assessment.
When I read, I’m transported to the mind of the character. I’m in the story. I’m wielding a battle axe or sipping from a chalice while surveying my kingdom. I’m running from a hit-man or twirling in my ballgown at the coronation. I am the character and the character is me. My brain learns from these characters trials and triumphs. I gain from their experiences and each life I live adds to the mix that is me.
From the article:
“Neuroscientists mapping the brain have discovered that reading fiction taps into the same brain networks as real life experience. When you are engaged in reading a fictional story your brain is literally living vicariously through the characters at a neurobiological level.”
The article also touches on the “Theory of Mind” and how even fiction improves it. If you’re not familiar with this term it’s “the ability to attribute mental states — beliefs, intents, desires, pretending,knowledge, etc. — to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one’s own.”
In my own experiences, I have found that those who have came into my life as readers were typically more understanding and had a global view of the world and it’s problems while those who were not readers were more isolationist.
In my own life, I read often to my children and will continue to do so. I hope that you will consider reading more too.
Quote credit goes to “Psychology Today”. The article I’ve referenced is below.