A graduate of St. John’s University, Melville, NY, resident Ellen Scharaga earned her BS in pharmacology before embarking on a career as an executive for multiple pharmaceutical development companies. Currently an operational consultant with Alegria Specialty Pharmacy, Ellen Scharaga spends her free time participating in activities such as reading. While enjoying books can be a relaxing pastime, it also can provide readers with a number of benefits.
Engaging in reading can activate not only the pleasure centers of the brain, but also the brain areas that engage when participants focus on executive function. These areas are associated with multiple complex cognitive functions. When a person reads, the activity can increase the brain’s capacity for memory by exercising areas that cause it to concentrate.
In addition to stimulating mental function, reading can alleviate the stress hormone cortisol, the body’s natural hormonal response to stress. While cortisol usually acts as a defense against stress hormones, a chronic amount of the hormone can lead to long-term problems.
Reading serves as an individual’s gateway to cultures and concepts outside of what he or she typically experiences. By reading novels and nonfiction pieces on subjects outside of one’s own immediate sphere of knowledge, a reader is exposed to new concepts and ideas.