Have you ever felt “taken away” or “overwhelmed” when reading a fictional book? Some people really get lost into the book and lose focus on their surrounding. Personally, I have felt this so many times when reading outstanding fictional work, such as the writings of
J. K. Rowling and Dan brown.
Interestingly, the science behind these feelings is not clear yet, so a group of scientists at the Free University of Berlin decided to decipher and uncover the reasons why the brain reacts this way.
The main findings mentioned that these fictional stories with a lot of emotional content prompt the readers to feel empathy towards the protagonists. And such feelings are activated by a special neural network located in the anterior insula and mid-cingulate cortex regions of the brain. The participants were given short paragraphs from the Harry Potter book series, and the content from these paragraphs ranged from emotionally neutral or fear-inducing.
This is, of course, no surprise, but what’s interesting is what was going on in the participants’ brains. The fear-inducing passages were actually triggering different neural pathways into action that the emotionless, neutral passages were not.