Thursday, January 29, 2009

Reading, Evocation and Simulaton

Readers build vivid mental simulations of narrative situations, brain scans suggest

A new brain-imaging study is shedding light on what it means to "get lost" in a good book — suggesting that readers create vivid mental simulations of the sounds, sights, tastes and movements described in a textual narrative while simultaneously activating brain regions used to process similar experiences in real life.

Does that mean that stories use the same brain areas as real-life?

Or that what we conceive to be real-life is really happening in the same brain areas as fiction but with the added benefit or sensorial input? Both seem to operate in the same fashion. A friend who studies lucid dreaming also expects the similar brain areas to fire up when a dreamer acquires lucidity.

Real-life worldviews are of the same substance as more or less educated stories?

That would render myths, legends, fallacies, and other imaginary constructions indistinguishable from evidence-supported hypothesis.


  1. I have a very hard time distinguishing early childhood memories from early childhood dreams. In fact I think it's probably a healthy 50-50 mix. But if the same area of the brain is used for both story-telling and real-life situations, that only means that we have but one mean to understand situations, not that reality and fiction will fall together as indistinguishable entities. But they can, obviously!

    Our self-understanding is most likely a fiction of our own selves.

  2. Other things can screw up childhood memories: memories of others told to you as stories, photos or videos of your childhood, the legends you've constructed yourself from fragmentary recollections.

    I think we process all "experiences" from the same areas but what distinguishes between dreams, myths and wakefulness is the more or less accurate connection with our senses.