Our brain, as well as our body, requires food. However, it feeds not on material things, but information. One of the best sources of such a product is a book. Tatyana Chernigovskaya, Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Education (RAE), Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor of General Linguistics, Head of the Issues in Convergence of Natural and Humanitarian Sciences Department, Head of the Laboratory of Cognitive Studies of St. Petersburg State University told us about the benefits from reading, improving associative thinking, and intellectual saturating.

Tatyana Chernigovskaya noted that the only thing that our brain can’t do is stop learning. Every single act of our cooperation with environment affects the formation of the neuronet and even neurogenesis. Our brain produces new neural connections every second. The shape of these connections depends on the person, his actions, and the kind of information he observes. For example, if people often think things over, listen to classical music, taste different drinks and food, and, most importantly, read high-qualified literature, they have a wide associative field and their brain is well-improved.


Tatyana Chernigovskaya says that the most significant thing in a good book is not its plot, precisely not only the plot. She mentioned film versions of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes shot in different years as an example. Tatyana Chernigoskaya remembers the plot of novels well. However, she is interested not only in the events described there, but the characters, their behavior, manner of speech, and many other things. Observing the literature in such way is difficult. It requires more effort than just following the plot. When you read fiction, you should pay attention to a lot of details and observe a text on different levels.

What’s more, you should read books not only with our eyes, but also your brain. Tatyana Chernigovskaya mentioned a common situation as an example: when we are deep in our thoughts and troubles, it becomes difficult to read. We glance down the text but we can’t understand its meaning. We only mechanically scan our book. This reading is completely useless. If we actually revise the information given and think every phrase over, our brain starts working actively. In this case it’s hard to tell if the process of reading is a rest or active work. By the way, the same works with listening to music. Tatyana Chernigovskaya is sure that many things depend on how it’s done and what we think about when we do it.

It’s interesting that a human brain reacts to the events which happened in real life, in a book, in a play or were just made up, in the same way. In the end of the nineteenth century, Ivan Sechenov mentioned it, and now his thoughts are proved with help of tomography. By the way, our brain is active even when we simply recall the past events, the books we read, the films or the plays we watched. It proves the vital role of art which allows creating an imaginary world and the fiction’s (as well as publications’, articles’, performances’, art-objects’, pictures’ etc.) plot in our mind.

It’s necessary to say that intelligence can be improved not only by reading. Tatyana Chernigovskaya emphasized that people need to communicate with smart interesting people. Intelligence improves when we observe the information which comes to our brain from any sources.

However, Tatyana Chernigovskaya said that electronic and paper-back books produce different effects. The types of processes happening when we read from a paper-back book or from a digital device are completely different. Besides, it’s no secret that the frequent use of gadgets is harmful not only for our eyesight, but for memory too. Tatyana Chernigovskaya compares paper-back books to works of art in museums and galleries and their digital versions to reproductions in brochures.

Tatyana Chernigovskaya spoke a lot about the area where thoughts appear, precisely whether it is our brain or consciousness. She noted that now our modern science can’t give an exact answer for this question. The scientists argue about the concept of consciousness and its belonging to certain living creatures. It’s interesting that many artists who create genius works of art often doubt their own authorship because the breakthroughs in science and art are made after a deep internal work, like without consciousness. It’s often said that their ideas dawned at them somehow, like someone guided them through the whole process of making it. Tatyana Chernigovskaya explains such a mystery: «All inventions, intellectual or artistic breakthroughs are made when the person is out of his mind. He loses control completely, and it produces an impression of someone else helping him to create a work. In reality, it is our brain that manages all these processes. It has many mysteries that we don’t know yet».

A thematic discussion on the topic ‘Women Scientists and Global Modern Challenges’ will take place at the Second Eurasian Women’s Forum. We hope that Tatyana Chernigovskaya will be one of the speakers there.

Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Irina Nikishina