Jun 21 2013

NYT: Annie Paul Murphy, "This is Your Brain on Fiction"

Changes to the common core standards will require students to read more non fiction. Does it matter whether we read fiction or non-fiction  And if fiction has a value distinct from non-fiction, what is it?  As this discussion heats up among educators this summer, Newton Street offers up this 2012 piece, Your Brain on Fiction,  written by Annie Paul Murphy.

Murphy summarizes recent experimental findings from neuroscience about how the brain handles narrative experience. “The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life.” The point being that fiction makes an art of presenting social situations and offers unparalleled opportunities to simulate complicated emotions and perceptions. The neuroscientists cited in the study make the claim that this kind of  simulation increases our ability to weigh subtle social situations and react with empathy.


Dwight Garner

Dwight Garner

See also,  NYT, Robert Sapolsky, “This is your brain on Metaphors”