Stories collectively engage listeners’ brains: Enhanced intersubject correlations during reception of personal narratives

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Description: Audiences’ engagement with mediated messages lies at the center of media effects research. However, the neurocognitive components underlying audience engagement remain unclear. A neuroimaging study was conducted to determine whether personal narratives engage the brains of audience members more than non-narrative messages and to investigate the brain regions that facilitate this effect. Intersubject correlations of brain activity during message exposure showed that listening to personal narratives elicited strong audience engagement as evidenced by robust correlations across participants’ frontal and parietal lobes compared to a non-personal control text and a reversed language control stimulus. Thus, personal narratives were received and processed more consistently and reliably within specific brain regions. The findings contribute toward a biologically informed explanation for how personal narratives engage audiences to convey information. Raw fMRI data are not able to be shared at this time.

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