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Reading for pleasure is great for your brain: A fireside chat at The Literary Book Bar

Event Type
Social/Informal Event
Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
The Literary Book Bar, 122 N. Neil St., Champaign
Feb 23, 2023   5:00 pm  
Professor Liz Stine-Morrow and postdoctoral researcher Melissa Troyer
Lexie Kesler
Originating Calendar
SLCL Event Calendar

Have you ever described a book as “pulling you in?” 

Science tells us that being immersed in a story isn’t just entertaining — it’s also good for your brain. Whether you’re thumbing through a high-stakes thriller, helping a literary sleuth solve the perfect crime, or questing with a crew of fantastical characters, your attention, memory, and problem-solving skills are engaged from the first page. It's what scientists call a “whole-brain” experience: the “pull” of immersive prose.

Dr. Liz Stine-Morrow and Dr. Melissa Troyer are scientists and avid bookworms who study the benefits of reading in all of its brain-changing, knowledge-making glory. Their advice: keep doing it, and your mind will thank you. 

Drop by The Literary in Downtown Champaign at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 for an informal discussion and Q&A about reading and the brain. Bring your questions and your TBR list (and be prepared to pick up a few new titles, too). 

Meet the panelists:

  • Dr. Liz Stine-Morrow (she/her) is Professor Emerita and a research scientist in educational psychology and in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Technology. Her field of research is cognitive aging, which investigates how mental abilities, such as memory and attention, are shaped by the aging process and experiences through the adult lifespan. She is particularly interested in age-related change in language comprehension and strategies for maintaining communication skills into old age. Her email is

  • Dr. Melissa Troyer (she/her) is a postdoctoral fellow at the Beckman Institute and received her Ph.D. in cognitive science from UCSD in 2019. Melissa’s research focuses on how differences in what people know influence how they read — including linking language to meaning, forming expectations about upcoming language, and (potentially) learning from language. Her email is

Meet the moderator:

  • Melinh Lai (she/her) is a psychology Ph.D. student specializing in figuring out how we piece together meaning from the things we read. As a youngest sibling, she is plagued by FOMO (fear of missing out) and the need to insert herself into other people’s conversations, which is why she is absolutely tickled about moderating this event. Her email is
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