How Stories Change the Brain
Ben’s dying. That’s what Ben’s father says to the camera as we see Ben play in the background. Ben is two years old and doesn’t know that a brain tumor will take his life in a matter of months. Ben’s father tells us how difficult it is to be joyful around Ben because the father knows what is coming. Everyone can relate to this story. A recent analysis identifies this “hero’s journey” story as the foundation for more than half of the movies that come out of Hollywood, and countless books of fiction and nonfiction. Why are we so attracted to stories? Why the brain loves stories The first part of the answer is that as social creatures who regularly affiliate with strangers, stories are an effective way to transmit important information and values from one individual or community to the next. Think of this as the “car accident effect.” To understand how this works in the brain, we have intensively studied brain response that watching “Ben’s story” produces. What makes a story effective?
Related: Storytelling Concepts