If you’re feeling jittery about where the country is going, there’s good news on the personal front. The link between physical exercise and mental acuity is real. (“Ask the Brains,” Scientific American Mind, Sept/October 2016, pg.72.) As we already know, the brain requires a good and constant supply of oxygen and we provide our bodies with plenty of it when we exercise. What’s been added to our knowledge about the brain/body connection is that exercise benefits picked up early in life pay dividends late into life. Researchers have discovered that “people who were more physically fit in 1985 performed about 10 percent better on the tests compared to their less fit counterparts.” (ibid pg. 72.)
Happily, we’re not talking about exercising at triathlon levels. Simple activities like washing the dishes or vacuuming the rug help circulate nutrient rich blood to the brain. (Ladies, tell that to your husbands.) What’s important is to keep moving.
One other note about the brain, and I’ve mentioned this before — our minds prefer traditional books over eBooks. The reason? The brain is accustomed to reading from left to right in linear fashion rather than scrolling for information. (Blog 11/14/2013)) The scroll may also explain why eBooks fatigue our eyes faster than regular books. (Ibid pg. 73) Another plus for paper books comes by turning the pages. Page turning is less disruptive for the brain than scrolling. When information intake flows smoothly, people understand the material better, and they find it easier to keep their place in the text.
When we read for pleasure, rather than for information, the good news is that comprehension levels with eBooks are about the same as with paper ones. Reading a Martha Grimes mystery electronically is okay. You won’t miss many clues.