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Why Story Works

Human beings are biologically wired to learn, communicate, and understand stories

“Evolution shaped our brain to learn through story.”

Dr. Marco Iacoboni

Professor of Biobehavioral Sciences

University of California, Los Angeles

Storytelling activates specific areas of the brain,
especially comprehension centers

Source: Stephens GJ, et al. Speaker-listener neural coupling underlies successful communication. PNAS. 2010;107(32):1-6


Storytelling has unique
and specific effects on the brain

Source: AbdulSabur NY, et al. Neural correlates and network connectivity underlying narrative production and comprehension: a combined fMRI and PET study. Cortex. 2014;57:107-127


Does storytelling really make a difference?

The short answer is yes.

There is a wealth of evidence that storytelling…


engagement 1-3


comprehension 4-7


recall 8-10

1. Hunter LP, Hunter LA. J Midwifery Women’s Health 2006;51:273–278   2. Easton G. BMC Medical Education 2016;16:3   3. Stories and Learning White Paper. 2016 Pearson Education   4. Britton BK, et al. Discourse Processes. 1983;6:39-57

5. Tun PA. J Gerontology: Psychological Sciences. 1989;44:9-15   6. Browning E, Hohenstein J. International Journal of Primary Education. 2015;43:530–547   7. Easton G. BMC Medical Education. 2016;16:3   8. Tun PA.  J Gerontology: Psychological Sciences. 1989;44:9-15

9. Zabrucky KM, Moore D. Educ Gerontol. 1999;25(8):691–710   10. Zabrucky K, Ratner HH.  J Literacy Research. 1992;24:373-391