Speaker: Franziska Hartung
Affiliation: Newcastle University, UK
Title: Stories as a window into the human mind
Abstract Humans spend an enormous amount of their time engaged in narratives, a behaviour that to our knowledge no other species developed. Some cognitive (neuro)scientists propose that our minds or brains are optimized for processing information in the form of narratives. Some even claim that the way in which we experience our own lives inherently carries a narrative character. Besides being entertaining and rewarding experiences, narratives teach us about the world, other people, even ourselves, and they help us make emotional, historical, and cultural connections. Over the past 15 years, empirical research on narratives has begun to gain a foothold in cognitive neuroscience. As cognitive neuroscientists, we have come to learn that our models of language, memory, and perception fall short of providing satisfactory accounts of our aesthetic experiences with narratives. I will present recent findings on narrative engagement that show that experiential, cognitive, and affective responses to narratives rely on different behavioural and neurobiological correlates. Moreover, each person seems to bring their own set of expectations, beliefs, and motivations, which shape their experience of stories depending on the story, the reader, the perception of the writer, and the circumstances. I will discuss the need for new models that account for the interaction of individual and situational aspects of narrative engagement.
Franziska Hartung; Stories as a window into the human mind - YouTube