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Smarter change

Notes on Story

Stories predate our culture.

Story a trillion dollar USD industry

They help develop kid’s mental abilities

Stories give insight. Insights changes the brain

  • Eric Kandel Nobel Laureate – looking at sea snail neurons – 1 firing changes the chemistry of the synapse and lowers the threshold for more firing
  • Dissipates, but 5 instances makes structural changes, long term memory.

We all make up our world – bits which don’t fit we make a story so that they do – it was the best way of making sense of the world before Aristotle and his friends invented logic

Cognitive neuro-scientist  Michael Gazzaniga – visits a patient in NY hospital, her Spatial location part of brain gone – all brain function is normal. Lying in bed, reading NY times. He asks her where she is. She says at home in Maine. He asks about the elevators. She replies “do you know how much they cost?”

Like slowing down bullets in the matrix

Stories as metaphor, make the unknown known, always have a blind spot, though

Dysnarrativia – inability to tell stories, lose sense of self and others, no empathy

Stories are for high stakes conversations

Little engine that could, damsel in distress, what stories we tell about ourselves

Show people a weeping woman, at first story is she’s sad, when we change the story (she’s just been married), the emotional interpretation changes

Stop telling the story it weakens the neural networks

Stories teach / learn more than just the point they make

Master plots:

  • Poor boy makes good
  • Bad man just desserts
  • Good man tragic flaw
  • Boy means girl, gets or doesn’t get

Experiments – tell story of a clergyman donating a kidney – more likely to cooperate than if you tell a story of a clergyman who committed murder

From age 4 mirror neurons – empathise and predict behaviour

Dan Pink – Rita Charon – Columbia University Med School – got PHD in English, doctors working with her used to interrupt in 2 seconds into 90seconds, now 23 seconds “narrative medicine” – large part of diagnosis is patient’s story

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