Muggles, mudbloods, Squibs and Quidditch genuinely cast a spell on a reader's brain, new research has shown.

The terms and phrases found in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series activate the regions of the brain that process emotions.

Scientists used a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to map the brains of volunteers reading excerpts from JK Rowling's books about the young wizard.

They found "significant correlations" between brain activity in regions associated with emotion and words and passages judged to be emotionally charged.

Psychologist Dr Francesca Citron, from the University of Lancaster, said: "These results suggest that a text's constituting words can predict its emotion potential."

The scans showed that reading such passages stimulated the left amygdala region of the brain that is involved in processing emotional reactions.

Writing in the journal Brain And Language, the scientists said: "When we read a text, specific words reverberate in our minds...the art of choosing the right words with the appropriate affective impact is part of what defines the skill of good writers or speakers."