Reading is one hobby that has been recognized in supporting cognitive health, as explained by Healthline. Most people know that reading is good for brain health and brain health experts always recommend people to do keep their mind sharp. Does listening to a book require the same brain power?


The brain benefits reading and listening have in common

Audiobooks are increasingly popular among kids and adults. The growing popularity of audiobooks among the younger age groups is projected to boost market growth, as these individuals are likely to encourage their families and inspire their peers, resulting in a larger pool of prospective consumers.

As audiobooks have become increasingly more popular, it has questions whether it is getting the same benefits as traditional reading.

When it comes to the reading versus listening debate, neuroscientist Kristen Willeumier, Ph. D in her book Biohack Your Brain says "Reading is a cognitively engaging task that requires higher-level cognitive processing integrating written information and language comprehension." She explains that reading activates different parts of the brain. This includes the frontal lobe (involved in reasoning, motor control, emotion, and language), temporal lobe (associated with hearing, memory, and emotion), parietal lobe (processing information from the body’s senses), and occipital lobe (interpreting incoming visual information).

Additionally, Dr. Willeumier says reading versus listening have in common when it comes to brain function. It processes information associated with story comprehension in both situations. Whether reading or listening, brain is working.


How the brain benefits in reading or listening?

"The brain is differentially activated when processing speech versus print," Dr. Willeumier says. She explains that understanding what you are reading activates the left brain (areas associated with language processing), while understanding what you are listening to activates both (to process speech and audibility).

She also says that listening to an audiobook may lead to developing greater empathy because you are hearing the emotion in the narrator's voice, not just reading it on the page. "Listening to an emotionally-driven storyteller engages emotional circuits in the brain and can heighten the intensity and imagery of the episodes, leading to deeper processing of the narrative and greater enjoyment of the material than experienced by reading a book," she says.


Benefits of reading/listening books

  • Strengthens brain
  • Increases ability to empathize
  • Builds vocabulary
  • Prevents age-related cognitive decline
  • Reduce stress
  • Prepares for a good night’s sleep
  • Helps alleviate depression symptoms


In Summary

To your brain, listening to a book is having the same benefits as reading it. “Whether you favor audiobooks or physical books, either way you're doing something that's good for your brain,” Dr. Willeumier says.

Choosing what you enjoy, it is going to be a great listening experience for you and your family members!