Researchers explore why we relate to characters

Researchers explore why we relate to characters

New research published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, suggests that no matter how a narrative is expressed–through words, gestures or drawings–our brains relate best to the characters, focusing on the thoughts and feelings of the protagonist of each story.

“We tell stories in conversation each and every day,” explains Steven Brown, lead author of the study, who runs the NeuroArts Lab at McMaster and is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience ang Behaviour. “Very much like literary stories, we engage with the characters and are wired to make stories people-oriented.”

An important question researchers set out to answer was how, exactly, narrative ideas are communicated using three different forms of expression, and to identify a so-called narrative hub within the brain.

For the study, researchers scanned the brains of participants using fMRI and presented them with short headlines. For example, “Surgeon finds scissors inside of patient” or “Fisherman rescues boy from freezing lake.”

Source: The art of storytelling: researchers explore why we relate to characters