Your Brain On Fiction

Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters. Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.

Researchers have long known that the “classical” language regions, like Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area, are involved in how the brain interprets written words. What scientists have come to realize in the last few years is that narratives activate many other parts of our brains as well, suggesting why the experience of reading can feel so alive. Words like “lavender,” “cinnamon” and “soap,” for example, elicit a response not only from the language-processing areas of our brains, but also those devoted to dealing with smells.

The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul, NYTimes.com

The more we study the brain the more we realize that it does not make distinctions between reading and watching, between thinking an experience and having it in real life. The same parts of the brain are stimulated. The same has been discovered about empathy, when we see others in pain, the areas of the brain that would be active if we were suffering from the pain become active as well.

The more we study the brain the more obvious it becomes that the role of art, written or otherwise, is to educate us on how to handle experiences that we would not normally encounter. To educate us by allowing us to see the world from someone else’s point of view. 

 

Antonio Ortiz

Antonio Ortiz has always been an autodidact with an eclectic array of interests. Fascinated with technology, advertising and culture he has forged a career that combines them all. In 1991 Antonio developed one of the very first websites to market the arts. It was text based, only available to computer scientists, and increased attendance to the Rutgers Arts Center where he had truly begun his professional career. Since then Antonio has been an early adopter and innovator merging technology and marketing with his passion for art, culture and entertainment. For a more in-depth look at those passions, visit SmarterCreativity.com.

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