Apart from dozens of benefits of reading, researchers have discovered a new one which might help your children from a social point of view. They found out reading could transcend the cultural boundaries, leading to people feeling empathy towards one another regardless of the language they were reading, or the social differences between them.
Reading increases the sense of empathy
For the study, researchers from the University of Southern California had people read in three different languages, while performing brain scans on them. This is how they noticed certain patterns get activated in the brain when they find a meaningful story, and the patterns are the same regardless of the language.
The participants read stories in English, Mandarin Chinese, and Farsi. Then, researchers performed functional magnetic resonance imaging to analyze the patterns and responses of the brain forming while reading the narrative. This is how they found out stories developed a higher sense of empathy towards others, as well as more pronounced self-awareness.
The brain responses were the same in all languages
We cannot deny there are huge differences between languages, even when they are related. Therefore, certain sentences might be read in a different way, or similar words might offer completely new meanings. Even so, the brain processes stories in the same way, even when they got translated from one language to another.
Researchers collected over 20 million stories posted on blogs and, using a software, they managed to narrow all the ideas down to 40 individual stories on heartbreak and lies. Then, they translated them into Farsi and Mandarin Chinese, and gave then to 90 people from America, Iran, and China to read. At the same time, these people had fMRI scans performed on their brains.
By reversing the process based on thorough text analysis and the responses of the brain, they managed to tell which story the participants were reading while they were doing this. This worked for all languages, showing absolutely no difference when the initial words got translated. Therefore, reading might be the ultimate bonding tool the entire world needs.
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