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Fire Up Your Brain with Some Shakespeare

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Shakespeare’s dominance in the world of letters, some 400 years after his death, is refuted by few. His genius is universally recognized, as evidenced through his prolific, relentless output of the world’s most famous, critically acclaimed, studied and currently performed dramas. In the year 1599 alone he created Henry V, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, a draft of Hamlet and several sonnets.

In addition to his massive output of classic dramas, new evidence suggests that his writing style may have a direct relationship with certain neural excitements. Professor Philip Davis of Liverpool University has studied the effects of Shakespeare’s prose on the human brain since 2006, and seems to have found some compelling evidence.

It turns out that Shakespeare’s unusual, frequent and playful shifts in syntax provoke unusual activity in the brain, detectable through EEG and fMRI scanning techniques. Shakespeare’s subversion of traditional grammatical structures and wordplay prompt activation in the visual association cortex, or regions of the brain traditionally activated by visualization.

Feeling mentally sluggish? Don’t reach for the coffeepot, reach for Hamlet.