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The visual languages of comics and graphic novels are great exercise for developing brains.
01 May, 2020
- In addition to being fun, studies have shown that the visual language of graphic novels stimulates the brain in ways that complex text can.
- For some readers, information is easier to process through images than it is through text alone.
- These graphic novels are great for getting young readers into philosophy, technology, and other scientific narratives.
<p>If you're not on the graphic novel train by now, you're missing out. In addition to being a pathway to reading for those who see big groups of text as daunting or inherently boring, studies have shown that the visual language of comics and graphic novels is good for the brain. <br><br>In a 2019 paper titled "<a href="http://www.visuallanguagelab.com/P/2019.PLM.NC.pdf" target="_blank">Visual narratives and the mind: Comprehension, cognition, and learning</a>," assistant professor at Tilburg University and comics theorist Neil Cohn writes that because narrative sequential images are often used in things like children's books and storyboards, it has led to the "general belief that visual narratives are transparent to understand, requiring little learning beyond basic cognition like perceptual and event processing, sequential reasoning, and theory of mind." Cohn says that there is a growing field of psychological research that has shown that this is not true. <br><br>Humans are <a href="https://qz.com/1777533/reading-comic-books-can-improve-brain-health/" target="_blank">60,000 times faster</a> at processing images than we are at processing text, and combining the two stimulates the brain in meaningful ways. In one study conducted at the University of Oklahoma, <a href="https://www.comicsbeat.com/new-study-shows-that-graphic-novels-really-do-help-people-learn/" target="_blank">80 percent of students</a> in a senior level business course reported learning more from a graphic novel than from reading a textbook. </p><p>"As we read, we practice multimodal literacy, drawing on our available resources and using them to shape meaning from the multimodal elements particular to a comics text, including the combination of words, images, spatial layout, gutters, sound effects, panel composition, body language, facial expression, emanata, and other comics elements," <a href="http://imagetext.english.ufl.edu/archives/v7_3/jacobs/?print" target="_blank">wrote Dale Jacobs</a>, author of "<a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/1441126414?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank">Graphic Encounters: Comics And The Sponsorship Of Multimodal Literacy</a>" and associate professor of English at the University of Windsor, Canada. "Reading comics, then, is an active process, and a theory of multimodality helps to explain how meaning is created by readers of comics and how readers reimagine themselves in relation to specific comics texts."</p><p>On top of all of that, reading graphic novels is often just more fun! Well-written stories with beautiful illustrations can make any subject more compelling and palatable, especially for young, easily distracted readers. Here are some titles worth adding to your young reader's shelves if he/she is into <a href="https://bigthink.com/gear/stem-toys" target="_blank">STEM </a>but not quite ready to thumb through textbooks and heady scientific journal articles.</p>
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