A recent article in the Australian Financial Revue (23rd July 2016) by poet and scientist Zayani Bhatt, highlighted some interesting information, underlining the changes to brain function caused by reading poetry.
Researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK used MRI scans on people reading poetry. They discovered that as far as the mind is concerned poetry is like music. Emotionally charged writing like poetry activated the region of the right side of the brain that responds to music. Research has shown that these areas also create to shivers down the spine.
In a further study researchers at Liverpool University found that when people read Shakespeare and Wordsworth brain activity increased, indicating that readers’ minds were being challenged when compared to the brain activity when texts were rewritten using modern language. This effect was long lasting, shifting the brain into a higher gear that encouraged further reading.
Bhatt goes on to point out that the research found that reading poetry increased activity in the right hemisphere of the brain in an area associated with ‘autobiographical memory’. This allows the reader to reflect on and review his or her own experiences in light of what they had been reading. Reflective thinking is well established as an important capacity for effective leaders.
We love to use Shakespeare and poetry in our programs: a great workout for the brain and a chance to reflect on experience and learn from it. And who knows, maybe you'll even get the occasional shiver down the spine.