The Vampire Effect: 'Twilight' Books May Change the Brain!

What does this mean for Kristen, Rob and Taylor?

The Vampire Effect: Twilight Books May Change the Brain!

What does this mean for Kristen, Rob and Taylor?

-Jane Farrell

Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner

Yes, the Twilight books are really popular. But they’ve come in for some serious criticism: They encourage an interest in the occult. They’re anti-feminist. And now, scientists say, reading the mega-bestsellers may affect the brains of teenage fans.

According to MSNBC, a group of writers, educators and scientists met earlier this month to analyze the effect young-adult books have on teens’ minds, and of course Twilight was at the top of the list. “What we have learned over the past decade is that the teenage brain processes information differently than a more mature brain,” Karen Coats, a professor of English at Illinois State University, told MSNBC.

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Coats, who also uses neuroscience as part of her work, added, “Brain imaging shows that teens are more likely to respond to situations emotionally, and they are less likely to consider consequences through rational forethought.” That could be especially true as teen girls are swept up in the lush, romantic, otherworldly atmosphere of the books.

But what will Twilight fans actually do as a result? Maria Nikolajeva, a professor of literature at Cambridge University in the UK, worries that girls may respond positively to what she sees as Bella’s passivity. “If you look very, very clearly at what kind of values the ‘Twilight’ books propagate, these are very conservative values that do not in any way endorse independent thinking,” she told MSNBC.

Of course, Bella’s fans disagree. “Bella is EXTREMELY independent in her thinking,” one fan snapped on a comment board.

One good thing about this subject: Linguistic anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath, of Stanford University, believes that reading longer novels can help teenagers give more sustained attention to a subject.

As for the stars of the movies: Kristen Stewart was eighteen when the first movie, Twilight, was released in 2008 and Taylor Lautner was sixteen. Could their brains have been affected? (Robert Pattinson was twenty-two, so he’s off the hook.)

Maybe, although that’s making the assumption they’ve actually read the books. Anyone know for sure? (MSNBC)

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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