Fascinating piece from the February 17 issue of the New Scientist on a whole raft of brain research suggesting that the human brain processes the information from stories in very similar ways to the way it processes information from perceived reality.
“When a team led by Jeffrey Zacks of Washington University in St Louis, Missouri, ran functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans on people reading a story or watching a movie, they found that the same brain regions that are active in real-life situations fire up when a fictitious character encounters an equivalent situation (Psychological Science, vol 20, p 989). What’s more, the brain responds in the same way whether the story is in the form of words on a page or a realistic action video. “What I find really strange is the degree to which that neural activity is conserved,” Zacks says. The mental mechanisms evolved over millennia to interpret a spoken story seem to have no problem adapting to new media.”
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