“What will I do without soda?” you may ask. The answer is simple: read Shakespeare.
While studies are showing that sugary drinks can make you dumber, evidence is also pointing to the fact that reading Shakespeare can increase cognitive functioning.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph earlier this year, Julie Henry reported the results of a study conducted at Liverpool university which used scanners to monitor brain activity on volunteers as they read works by Shakespeare, as well as other English writers such as William Wordsworth and T.S Eliot.
Scans showed that the more “challenging” prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the more pedestrian versions.
Scientists were able to study the brain activity as it responded to each word and record how it “lit up” as the readers encountered unusual words, surprising phrases or difficult sentence structure….
Philip Davis, an English professor who has worked on the study with the university’s magnetic resonance centre, will tell a conference this week: “Serious literature acts like a rocket-booster to the brain.
“The research shows the power of literature to shift mental pathways, to create new thoughts, shapes and connections in the young and the staid alike.”
Okay, maybe the Elizabethan bard isn’t your first choice. But there are many other authors that exercise an equally positive effect on the brain. The key is to choose texts that are recognized as belonging to the corpus of classic literature because these are the texts that are most likely to stretch your brain.
At first glance, the brain-stretching activity of good literature may seem unrelated to your EPPP test preparation. However, being able to pass your psychology licensing exam is about more than simply rote memory: it’s about understanding, comprehension, and the ability to make connections. Moreover, it’s also about training you to be a competent psychotherapist. All these skills can be strengthened by quality reading.
If you don’t have time to read an entire Shakespeare play (and let’s face it, time is a precious commodity for those preparing to sit their EPPP), pick up some of his sonnets. You can easily read a fourteen-line sonnet during the frequent breaks we recommend you take during your EPPP study.
So the next time you feel like grabbing a Soda, grab some Shakespeare instead.