He wrote that the ‘human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross
and violent stimulants’. And it appears that simply reading those words by William Wordsworth prove his point.
Researchers at the University of Liverpool found the prose
of Shakespeare and Wordsworth and the like had a beneficial effect on the mind, providing a 'rocket-boost' to morale
by catching the reader's attention and triggering moments of self-reflection.
Using scanners, they monitored the brain activity of volunteers as they read pieces of classical English literature both in their original form and in a more dumbed-down, modern translation.
And, according to the Sunday Telegraph, the experiment showed the more 'challenging' prose and poetry set off far more electrical activity in the brain than the pedestrian
The research also found poetry, in particular, increased activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, an area concerned with 'autobiographical
memory', which helped the reader to reflect on and reappraise
their own experiences in light of what they had read. The academics
said this meant the classics were more useful than self-help books.
The brain responses of 30 volunteers was monitored in the first part of the research as they read Shakespeare in its original and 'modern' form.
In one example, volunteers read a line from King Lear, 'A father and a gracious aged man: him have you madded', before reading the simpler. 'A father and a gracious aged man: him you have enraged
其中一个例子是志愿者阅读《李尔王》中的一句台词，“A father and a gracious aged man: him have you madded”接下来他们又阅读了一句简单一点的版本，“A father and a gracious aged man: him you have enraged”。（小编注：此句译文为：这样一位父亲，这样一位仁慈的老人家，你们却把他激成了疯狂！）
Shakespeare's use of the adjective 'mad' as a verb caused a higher level of brain activity than the straightforward prose.
The next phase of the research is looking at the extent to which poetry can affect psychology and provide therapeutic
benefit. Volunteers' brains were scanned while reading four lines by Wordsworth, and four 'translated' lines were also provided.
The first version caused a greater degree of brain activity, lighting up not only the left part of the brain concerned with language, but also the right hemisphere that relates to autobiographical memory and emotion.
'Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive
,' said Prof Davis, who will present the findings at the North of England education conference in Sheffield this week.