With so much attention focused on the negative aspects of attention -- distraction, multitasking -- as a consequence of our use of digital media, we need more systematic research like this on the relation of our brain's cognitive functions and our media practices -- Howard
"During a series of ongoing experiments, [fMRI] images track blood flow in the brains of subjects as they read excerpts of a Jane Austen novel. Experiment participants are first asked to leisurely skim a passage as they might do in a bookstore, and then to read more closely, as they would while studying for an exam.
[The researchers] said the global increase in blood flow during close reading suggests that “paying attention to literary texts requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions.” Blood flow also increased during pleasure reading, but in different areas of the brain [suggesting] that each style of reading may create distinct patterns in the brain that are “far more complex than just work and play.”
The experiment focuses on literary attention, or more specifically, the cognitive dynamics of the different kinds of focus we bring to reading."