Stories Have the Power to Save us: A Neurological Framework for the Imperative to Tell Stories

OMICS Online (OMICS Publishing Group)
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Journal Article
Arts and Social Sciences Journal, 2014, 5 (2), pp. 1 - 4
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The evolutionary advantage of humans is in our unique ability to process stories – we have highly evolved ‘narrative organs.’ Through storytelling, vicarious knowledge, even guarded knowledge, is used to help our species survive. We learn, regardless of whether the story being told is ‘truth’ or ‘fiction.’ Humans place themselves in stories, as both observer and participant, to create a ‘neural balance’ or sweet spot that allows them to be immersed in a story without being entirely threatened by it – and this involvement in story leads to the formation of empathy – an empathy that is integral to forging a future humanity. It is through empathy, we argue, that stories have the power to save us. The hippocampi process narrative details. Situated alongside are the amygdalae – organs that place the reader in the story. The temporal lobes store ‘story nuggets.’ Finally there’s the frontal cortex to inhibit full participation in narrative, so that the story can be experienced vicariously.
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