By: Lina Jamis, 1st year student in the Anatomy Graduate Program
People love stories—we build social networks around them, we recount them to our friends and families at the end of our day, we whisper them in the dark to our children before they sleep. Stories are all around us, even in the most unlikely of places. It’s a human tradition with an effect on the brain that might explain why we love them so much.
Researchers have long known that classical language regions like Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas are heavily involved in the interpretation of spoken and written word, respectively.
But what science has come to realize recently is that fiction stimulates many other parts of the brain, suggesting why the experience of reading can elicit such strong empathy. (You know you cried a little when Dumbledore died).
In fact, it seems that the brain does not make much distinction between reading about an experience and encountering an experience in real life. In each case, the same brain regions are stimulated.