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Pleasure is central to life. While many species share some of the same brain networks for pleasure, there are clearly species-specific routes to pleasure, of which language and music are among the most important in humans. Reading and writing are very useful interfaces to these temporal human pleasures, which allow us to communicate, record, experience and imagine the hedonic experiences of other humans across time and space. While we have yet to fully understand the underlying neural mechanisms of language and music, there is now evidence from brain science which can help to elucidate some of the relevant functional neuroanatomy. Here, we review our still rather limited understanding of reading and pleasure seen from a brain perspective and note that while this approach is obviously still limited in scope, it might nevertheless offer new and interesting insights. In particular, we try to synthesise the current evidence from brain science to propose a novel model of how reading may come to evoke subjective hedonic experience. We highlight the central role of anticipation and how this might provide a key to how the brain works on many different levels, including the capacity of reading to evoke pleasure. © 2008 Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

Original publication




Journal article


Interdisciplinary Science Reviews

Publication Date





321 - 335