We’ve heard a lot lately about the power of stories, and about how the content of a good story stays with listeners more than any other type of information (e.g. facts, statistics, or even analogies). Now scientists are beginning to understand why.
According to a recent New York Times article, scientists recently mapped the experience of listening to podcasts, (specifically NPR’s “The Moth Radio Hour”) using a scanner to track brain activity. They laid out a detailed map of the brain as it absorbed and responded to each story: “Widely dispersed sensory, emotional and memory networks were humming, across both hemispheres of the brain; no story was ‘contained’ in any one part of the brain, as some textbooks have suggested.”
The researchers broke the stories into units of meaning—e.g. social elements, locations and emotions—and found that these concepts fell into 12 categories that tended to cause activation in the same parts of people’s brains at the same points throughout the stories. They then retested that model by seeing how it predicted M.R.I. activity while the volunteers listened to another Moth story. The “kaleidoscope of activation” explains why any of us can get so utterly entranced by a good tale that time flies as we listen to it—yet we remember it long after.
We want to hear: Have you ever felt completely engrossed when listening to a good story? Do you use stories in your business life, and do you have a favorite you’d like to share? To join the conversation, click "comments" on our Community of Practice Forum.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion