Here's an opinion piece from the New York Times:
"Your Brain on Fiction
By Annie Murphy Paul
March 17, 2012
Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life..."
And here's what the Los Angeles Times had to say:
Another Use for Literature
December 29, 2013
A child who has not yet developed the skills of theory of mind will say, 'In the washing machine.' The child knows where Stuffy is from having heard the story, and so assumes that Sally must know this too. Only when a child has developed the intuitive ability to put herself in another's shoes can she recognize that Sally would not know about the laundering, because it happened after she left for school, and so would look for Stuffy on her bed...
Now, research by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano of the New School for Social Research, published in the journal Science, suggests that reading literature improves these intuitive abilities. But not just any literature. Literature with a capital L."
Intriguing stuff. It's definitely making me value my own habit of reading good writing on a daily basis.