Many writers and researchers in the literary field speak of “poetics of reading” underlining how much reading and what one reads make “the difference” in people’s lives, both as children and adolescents and in adulthood.

In support of this, recent scientific studies of neuropsychobiology, have shown a benefit of reading in the prevention of the decline of cognitive abilities in the elderly and to some extent on the aging of the brain.
On a psychological level, reading undoubtedly increases the ability to pay attention and concentration, relaxes, distracts, excites and improves life, making you happier.
But how reading affects the brain
It will be true, as some researchers, scientists and writers venture, that ” a book a day keeps Alzheimer’s away
And how many readers are aware or have ever thought that they have used books to increase their Intellectual Quotient (IQ)

AND, overall, reading really makes you smarter.
Referring to the current scientific literature, I will try to answer all these questions in a synthetic, understandable, scientifically correct way.
Reading can make you more intelligent by acting in a specific way on some mental and psychic functioning. According to the Raymond Cattel model, “crystallized intelligence”(the ability to use skills and knowledge acquired with experience), on “fluid intelligence” (the ability to understand and solve problems that does not depend on previous knowledge), on “emotional intelligence” which according to Peter Salovey and John D . Mayer and the ability to control one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to distinguish between them and to use this information to guide one’s thoughts and actions and the associative capacity” the quick connection by psychic association of memories, facts, emotions for which, according to psychoanalysis, psychic memory is not a totally preconstituted datum, it is not simply remembered but constructed.
According to Mednick, it is precisely in the associative capacity of ideas that the characteristic of “creative thinking” resides: “the putting together, in a useful way, ideas usually far from each other”.
Intelligence is made up of a set of complex characteristics that interact with each other and that can be measured with psychodiagnostic tests that “measure” them quantitatively and whose overall result is called the IQ.

According to the international scale, the IQ and how much an intellectual and practical performance (practical skills) differs from the average of the population .
By convention, the average is considered 100, this means that with a score higher than 100 you will have a performance above the average and below the opposite. Usually we consider normal IQ between 85 and 115 (within which falls about 68% of the population) and we consider intellectual deficit performance score below 70.
The German psychologist William Sterndeveloped IQ measurement in the early 1900s. His system uses the scores of an intelligence test along with age to determine where an individual falls on the intelligence spectrum relative to other people – that is, an intelligence has been established “Average” by making a statistical evaluation. Intelligence, as defined and measured in this test, is a combination of the ability to solve problems, acquire new knowledge and engage in abstract reasoning.
Of course, IQ does not “exactly” measure intellectual ability.
Each person’s culture, education, and other aspects of history can change the answers to some of the test questions that measure IQ, meaning that people with the same innate or latent ability can potentially have different IQs and that in the test there may be some inaccuracy in the measurement.
A high score on an IQ test is also based on an individual’s motivation; wanting to do the test well and believing the test is important are correlated with higher scores.
Reading changes the mind in a myriad of ways but not all of them are detectable with tests or emerge from IQ scores.
Reading allows people to build their crystallized intelligence. Crystallized intelligence and all the factual knowledge, figures and data, that a person knows. It is the encyclopedia of the mind. As people read more, the information adds to their “database” of basic information.
Fluid intelligence is more abstract. It involves the ability to solve problems, detect patterns, and come to global understanding independently of crystallized intelligence.
Reading and fluid intelligence have a reciprocal relationship; reading trains people’s brains to better detect more meaningful patterns, and as people make these connections, they understand better what they are reading. Emotional intelligence
is also linked to the ability to make associations .

In 2013, two psychologists, David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano published a work in which they explain that reading fiction improves an individual’s theory of mind.
The theory of mind is essentially a measure of a person’s empathy and ability to understand how others think and feel. According to this study, people who read fiction are significantly better at identifying other people’s emotions because “the same psychological processes are used to navigate real narrative and relationships.”
Derek Beres states that “reading is a great way to practice being human”.
But perhaps the most fascinating aspect of how reading can make you smarterand how it increases brain connectivity .
Reading involves not only the parts of the brain that manage language but also movement and sensation . When people read, a part of their mind enters the body of the characters, this connection also remains for a period after reading.
In a study of college students tasked with reading Robert Harris’ novel Pompeii, the researchers found that the links between the left temporal cortex, the brain’s language center, and the central sulcus, the part of the brain that manages movement and physical sensation, were enhanced. Therefore, reading can also increase the sensory capabilities of the body.
From a scientific point of view it is more correct to think of the benefits deriving from reading, not in terms of simple “improvement of intelligence” but rather as “change of mental functioning”.
Reading, even if it may not be able to modify the basic skills (the individual predisposition), can however increase the notions and facts that are known , allow tobetter identify patterns and patterns of functioning , increase empathy, improve associative capacity and individual reactive skills .
Current research on how reading affects the mind shows that reading is particularly important in children and adolescents who by their nature are constantly growing and developing.

Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovichthey write that “reading produces significant dividends for all, not just intelligent children or the most skilled readers. Often teachers do all they can to increase the skills of their students, with great expenditure of energy, but there is at least a habit that can be modulated according to the age that is in itself able to improve the skills, and it is precisely the reading that can initially also be proposed as listening to a reading by the teachers and continued at home with readings made by the parents. Even short readings that convey affection, attention, care and knowledge in one fell swoop!
In conclusion, reading is certainly not a “magic pill” that suddenly increases intelligence, but reading can make a difference for the people who it insensibly induces, over time, a change making it perceptible to oneself how one’s vision of situations, people, and the facts of life has changed.
Last but not least, reading allows you to fantasize, to fly into new worlds and unexplored universes, go back to busy and loved streets, keep company, occupy time, stimulate creativity, relax, cheer up, satisfy, intrigue, passion and often make you happier. and often frankly satisfied.
1 – Cattell, RB, (1963) Theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence: A critical experiment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 54, 1-22.
2 – Sigmund Freud, The interpretation of dreams, Turin, Euroclub under license from Boringhieri, 1986. Original title Die Traumdeutung, 1899
3 – Pierre Codoni, Una psicoanalisi al microscopio. Micropsicoanalisi, Torino, Cortina, 2010.
4 – Mauro Alfonso, Psicoanalisi e oltre, Torino, Cortina, 2011.
5 – Mednick S. A., The associative basis of creativity, Psychological Review, 69, 1962, pp. 220-232;
6- David Comer Kidd ed Emanuele Castano, Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind,
Science 342, October 2013
7 – Derek Beres, How reading rewires your brain for greater intelligence and empathy.
8 – Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich, What Reading Does for the Mind, Journal of Direct Instruction, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 137–149.
8- Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich, What Reading Does for the Mind, Journal of Direct Instruction, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 137–149.
8 – Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich, What Reading Does for the Mind, Journal of Direct Instruction, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 137–149.
9 – Christopher Bergland, Reading Fiction Improves Brain Connectivity and Function. Reading a novel has the power to reshape your brain and improve theory of mind.
10- Patrick C. Kyllonen e Raymond E. Christal, Reasoning ability is (little more than) working-memory capacity
11- Kristen Twardowski, Does reading make you smarter
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