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Scary Kafka Roundup

October 2, 2009

Reading disturbing, surrealistic stories may make you smarter than reading stories with straightforward plots.

Transcript

Some mind-expanding reading. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We’re all told that reading expands the mind. But disturbing or surreal material may work especially well. This according to a new study in the journal Psychological Science. Volunteers read bizarre stories like Kafka’s The Country Doctor or more rational, reality-based fare. Later, those exposed to surreal material performed better at complex tasks that required flexible thinking. The scientists say that surreal plot twists prime our brains to search for new patterns and meaning.

In other news, researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center report that eating fat makes us keep on eating. They found that fat molecules enter the brain and trigger a message that tells the body to ignore signals that say "I’m full." So aside from the extra calories fats give us, they also drain our will to cut back. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.