Reading Stories Activates Neural Representations of Visual and Motor Experiences


This article published in Psychological science describes the method and results of a research project carried out at Washington University in St. Louis. The research was based on finding a link between the process of reading a narrative and mentally undertaking the motor and visual experience which are being described within the narrative. By using MRI scanning on the participants the research found that the same areas of the brain that are involved in carrying out a task physically were also activated when reading about that task – when reading about someone kicking a ball the region of the brain that deals with moving our feet is activated.

This is an interesting result and sits rather nicely with my written thesis ideas for this year about kinaesthetics and how we position ourselves within the physical world and differentiate or confuse that with the hyperreal world of the image. If when we read stories areas of the brain are activated in the same way as when we carry out the actions described in the story then is the same true for looking at images – do we look at an image and project our experience of the subject of the image by accessing certain parts of the brain depending on what we are presented with? Is this a way that we can differentiate between a real and a hyperreal space,  with our brain subconsiously carrying out simulations to assess our situation?



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