A friend on the WomPo list forwarded me this article.
Verse Broadens the Mind, Scientists Find
"IF LITERATURE is food for the mind, then a poem is a banquet, according to research by Scottish scientists which shows poetry is better for the brain than prose. Psychologists at Dundee and St Andrews universities claim the work of poets such as Lord Byron exercise the mind more than a novel by Jane Austen. By monitoring the way different forms of text are read, they found poetry generated far more eye movement which is associated with deeper thought.
Subjects were found to read poems slowly, concentrating and re-reading individual lines more than they did with prose.
" . . . Dr Jane Stabler, a literature expert at St Andrews University and a member of the research group, believes poetry may stir latent preferences in the brain for rhythm and rhymes that develop during childhood. She claims the intense imagery woven through poems, and techniques used by poets to unsettle their readers, force them to think more carefully about each line. "
For full article click here.