The Wall Street Journal reports on a brand new study in Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience:
People who read a lot of fiction are known to have stronger social skills than nonfiction readers or nonreaders. A new study suggests that reading fictional works, especially stories that take readers inside people’s lives and minds, may enhance social skills by exercising a part of the brain involved in empathy and imagination.
…[R]eading fictional excerpts about individuals and groups of people heightened activity in a brain system known as the default network. This system is active when people are imagining hypothetical situations, such as the past or the future, or thinking about another person’s perspective, the researchers said.
I’ve written on this topic before. The evidence continues to pile up.