Your Brain on Fiction (New York Times): excellent article giving brief details of recent(ish) results showing that reading descriptive text (not just fiction as the title suggests, but travelogues and descriptive biographies as well I would think) stimulates the parts of the brain involved in controlling movement and sensing things in much the same way as actually moving or sensing things stimulates them. Many years ago akicif described reading as “text-only cyberspace”. It seems he was very right.
Science fiction and fantasy, of course, are brilliant for this, as you can “experience” things which are impossible in reality.