Storytelling and the Brain

“Stories are told in the body,” says a recent article at the site for UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center:

It doesn’t seem that way. We tend to think of stories as emerging from consciousness—from dreams or fantasies—and traveling through words or images to other minds. We see them outside of us, on paper or on screen, never under the skin.

But we do feel stories. We know in our gut when we’re hearing a good one—and science is starting to explain why.

Experiencing a story alters our neurochemical processes, and stories are a powerful force in shaping human behavior. In this way, stories are not just instruments of connection and entertainment but also of control.

The article continues to lead us down the path of how “stories unfold in our bodies,” from the release of oxytocin or dopamine to the increase of empathic skills to the triggering of “neurochemical processes that make certain kinds of resource-sharing possible.”

I’ve reported on the psychological benefits of fiction reading here before. This just goes to show how stories can change the brain.