More Evidence for Our Storied Brains

Researcher Nicole Speer conducted an experiment to see if humans are physiologically disposed to break down activities into narratives.

Excerpts from an article describing the research:

As expected, activity in certain areas of the brain increased at the points that subjects had identified as the beginning or end of a segment… Consistent with previous research, such boundaries tended to occur during transitions in the narrative such as changes of location or a shift in the character’s goals. Researchers have hypothesized that readers break down narrated activities into smaller chunks when they are reading stories. However, this is the first study to demonstrate that this process occurs naturally during reading, and to identify some of the brain regions that are involved in this process….The fact that these results occurred with narratives that described mundane events is particularly important to our understanding of how humans comprehend everyday activity. Speer writes that the findings “provide evidence not only that readers are able to identify the structure of narrated activities, but also that this process of segmenting continuous text into discrete events occurs during normal reading.”