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Storytelling & Neuroscience

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Stories have power; the power to move us to action, the power to teach and help us remember. Humans have evolved as story telling creatures and as such the telling of tales is deeply interwoven into how our brains work and think.

Presented at PodCamp Toronto 2015

Publicado en: Marketing
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Storytelling & Neuroscience

  1. 1. Storytelling & Neuroscience #PCTO15
  2. 2. Rob Clark Storyteller & Problem Solver @theelusivefish
  3. 3. CAVEAT:IANAN i am not a neurologist
  4. 4. Once upon a time…
  5. 5. Once upon a time…
  6. 6. Why did we evolve as story telling creatures?
  7. 7. The brain is always converting raw data into meaningful patterns.
  8. 8. Safe or not safe?
  9. 9. Fgrav = 0.2 * 9.8 m/s2 Experiences translate into an understanding of the world
  10. 10. Memories expand our available data from which we model the world
  11. 11. See Saw Experiment
  12. 12. See Saw Experiment
  13. 13. See Saw Experiment
  14. 14. See Saw Experiment
  15. 15. Stories let us codify our collective past, in order to better understand the now.
  16. 16. Ouch…
  17. 17. Frank and Joe looked in horror at the oncoming car. It was careening from side to side on the narrow road. “He’ll hit us! We’d better climb this hillside, and fast!” Frank exclaimed, as the boys brought their bikes to a screeching halt and leaped off. “On the double!” Joe cried out as they started up the steep embankment.
  18. 18. Stories can act as a simulation for the mind
  19. 19. Stories allow us to have experiences without facing the physical risk
  20. 20. Cause & Effect
  21. 21. Stories allow us to envision the future Not sure if actually experiencing the future… Or just hearing a really good story.
  22. 22. We fear and resist change But we are risk takers
  23. 23. Stories allow us to accept change by experiencing it in a safe setting and fully examine the rewards of taking risk.
  24. 24. Evolutionary advantage to the storytellers: • Learn and understand without the need for first hand experience • Predict the outcomes of actions • Risk/reward analysis
  25. 25. The hardwiring and working of our brains make some stories more acceptable to us than others.
  26. 26. Freytag’s Pyramid Inciting incident Rising action Falling action Denouement Climax Resolution Exposition
  27. 27. Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth Call to adventure Reward KNOWN UNKNOWN Meeting Mentor Crossing the Threshold Tests Helpers Climax / Ordeal Refusal of the call Enemies Return with Treasure The Road Back
  28. 28. The stories we’re most likely to latch on to are structured around change which comes through conflict
  29. 29. Chekhov’s gun Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first act that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third act it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.
  30. 30. PAYOFFSETUP Our brains are seeking to put meaning to patterns: if this, then that.
  31. 31. And then what? To hook your audience, you need to establish quickly that there is a puzzle or an emergent pattern. My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen years old when I was murdered on December 6th 1973.
  32. 32. And then what? Is everything in place? You aren’t supposed to relieve me. I know but I felt like taking a shift. You like him, don’t you. You like watching him. We’re going to kill him, you understand that? Morpheus believes he’s the one. Do you?
  33. 33. And then what?
  34. 34. WTF?!? And then what?
  35. 35. Remember the see saw experiment The brain wants reality to fit the model it has built for itself. The brain doesn`t like randomness or abstraction and will seek to impose order or establish a pattern.
  36. 36. Metaphors be with you • Hold your tongue • I beg to differ • Let the cat out of the bag • Spring to life • Barking up the wrong tree • “Their eyes meet and her heart starts flopping around weakly, like a bunny in a Ziploc bag.”
  37. 37. There is a payoff when we connect the dots and give meaning to a pattern. Likewise our brains do not like random occurrences or puzzle pieces that do not fit
  38. 38. Once more, with feeling
  39. 39. • Empathic response • Release of cortisol and oxytocin
  40. 40. Highest level goals are set by emotion
  41. 41. The Elusive Fish
  42. 42. Emotion gives weight to events. Creating an empathic response captures the attention and ensures greater connection to the story. !!!
  43. 43. Grab and hold your audience: • Cue a puzzle for solving • Feels > Plot • If this, then that. • Set it up and then pay it off.
  44. 44. Image Credits Brain • Allan Ajilfo Hans Christian Anderson • Granger Tiger in the Grass • National Geographic Thinking • Freddie Alequin Baby with Fork • Bridget Coila First Day of School • Michael Newton Empathy • Rosenfeld Media Cyclist on Hill • Jeremy Brooks Chicken • Marji Beach Eggs • Moyan Brenn Fried Eggs • Irish Jaunt Kite • Don DeBold Remembering • James Lee