The Neuroscience of Narrative and Memory

Posted On: 10/23/2017 11:33 AM

Chalkboard drawing with verse about plants and butterflies."As stories from childhood are linked to positive emotional experiences, they provide an insight into the patterning system by which memories are stored. Our brains seek and store memories based on patterns (repeated relationships between ideas). This system facilitates our interpreting the world—and all the new information we find throughout each day—based on prior experiences.

The four-step structure of narrative—beginning (Once upon a time...), problem, resolution, and ending (...and they all lived happily ever after)—forms a mental map onto which new information can be laid.

When that new information, whether from algebra or history, is presented in the familiar narrative form, the memory structure facilitates the brain’s retention of that information. With time that map expands to include narratives in which the ending is not “and they all lived happily ever after” but rather an opportunity for the student to explore or discover possible outcomes."


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