this is your brain on Kafka

by natalie sudikoff

Reading Kafka improves pattern-finding! In fact, any absurd or uncanny literature may be able to do this, a recent study from UC Santa Barbara suggests. According to the study, patients who read a nonsensical story performed better on grammatical pattern-learning tasks than did patients who read a similar story with a logical structure. One theory is that being temporarily immersed in a world of unfamiliar nonsense makes the brain more “motivated to find structure” in its surroundings.

Interesting side-note: It’s remarkably pleasing to discover form in the formless, and it’s something we do frequently with the imagination. Recall DaVinci’s fascination with the mind’s way of finding images in the natural patterns of “wall stains” and stones. Ever notice a similar inclination to make out something recognizable in an abstract work of art? Or the impulse to see shapes float by in the clouds?

Previous post:

Next post: