Jane Austen and… literary neuroscience (!)

Dammit, Jane! Not only do you send our hearts a-flutter with your tales of romance among the landed gentry, you apparently train our brain cells now, too! According to Futurity.org, neurobiological researchers at Stanford have conducted experiments with participants reading Jane Austen in an MRI machine. First, experiment participants were asked to skim a passage leisurely as they might do in a bookstore, and then to read more closely, as they would while studying for an exam. The researchers found that blood flow patterns in the brain differed based on the style of reading, leading researchers to conclude “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” So the next time someone asks you to put your Jane novel down, you have your retort: “Leave me alone! I’m engaging in literary-neurobiological cognitive training… dammit!”

No word yet on whether the Stanford researchers are going to research babies reading Cozy Classics.