What Stories Do To Our Brain

Brain impulses. Thinking prosessDuring the thousands of years of our evolution, storytelling has been one of our most fundamental forms of communication. Today, science has given us a window into what’s actually taking place when humans tell and listen to stories. And, what they’ve discovered is amazing; stories are perhaps our most powerful form of human communication. Learning to harness the power of stories in your business will enable you to communicate more effectively, increase the sales of your products and services, and initiate and manage change in today’s disruptive business environment.

When we’re providing information in a business environment such as a spreadsheet, a series of bullet points in a presentation, or a list of a facts, there are two parts of our brain that are activated by this information. Scientists have named these Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. These are the parts of our brain where we perform our language processing and are able to understand the meaning of words. That’s essentially it; not much else happens in these two areas of our brain.

But something fascinating occurs when we listen to a story. Yes, our language processing areas are activated but, a wide variety of other areas in our brain are activated as well. In fact, events in the story activate the same parts of the brain that would be activated if the events were occurring in reality. It seems that the same neural networks are activated whether we’re experiencing an event in a story or in actuality! Typically, six or more neural pathways are excited and activated when we’re telling and listening to a memorable story. This increased brain activity increases our retention of information by 7 times!

Groundbreaking work done at Princeton University by Associate Professor of Psychology, Dr. Uri Hasson, Ph.D. has shown that the brain of an individual listening to a story actually synchronizes with the brain of the individual telling a story and that an event called neural coupling occurs. Working with functional MRI, which can measure brain activity in real time, Dr. Hasson discovered that, “By simply telling a story the woman could plant ideas, thoughts and emotions into the listeners’ brains.”

This work has tremendous implications for how we conduct our business today. Regardless of your business’s size or the type of products and services you provide, stories are a powerful tool for driving your business forward. Once a leader understands the power that’s inherent in using stories to communicate, leaders can influence, engage and inspire their stakeholders to action in a way that’s not possible with any other form of communication! At Narrative IQ, we have the proven methodology and tools to teach business leaders how to do exactly that.