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Getting under your skin

How much does the way a story is told, e.g. from the perspective of a character or an all-knowing narrator, influence how we experience it? Franziska Hartung will defend her thesis on this topic, April 13th, at 10:30am at the Aula of Radboud University, Nijmegen.
Getting under your skin

When we read a book, we often get immersed into the story. Colorful adventures unfold from the pages in our minds. At times, this can feel as if we relive the adventures through the eyes of a character and sometimes we accompany the characters as silent witnesses of their stories. But how does black ink on white paper transform to lively images in the mind? And how much does the way a story is told, e.g. from the perspective of a character or an all-knowing narrator, influence how we experience it?

A popular theory in cognitive science called simulation theory proposes that our brains can respond to reading or hearing these stories as if we are experiencing the actions described ourselves. In her thesis, Hartung investigates how narrative perspective influences the way we simulate during reading. Her results show that getting immersed into stories and simulating experiences during reading is a very unique cognitive process. It might be that readers have a set of reading modes and may select a mode depending on their personal preference, mood, or reading goal. She shows that how a story is told indeed can influence how we relate to fictional characters and how we get immersed into stories but our personal preferences seem to be more important during this process.

Further information

  • Franziska Hartung will defend her thesis on Thursday, April 13th at 10.30am at the Aula of the Radboud University.
  • The thesis appears in the MPI Series in Psycholinguistics  (no 121).
About MPI

This is the MPI

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is an institute of the German Max Planck Society. Our mission is to undertake basic research into the psychological,social and biological foundations of language. The goal is to understand how our minds and brains process language, how language interacts with other aspects of mind, and how we can learn languages of quite different types.

The institute is situated on the campus of the Radboud University. We participate in the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and have particularly close ties to that institute's Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging. We also participate in the Centre for Language Studies. A joint graduate school, the IMPRS in Language Sciences, links the Donders Institute, the CLS and the MPI.

 

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