The flow of narrative in the mind unmoored: an account of narrative processing

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Abstract

Verbal narratives provide incomplete information and can be very long, yet readers and hearers often effortlessly fill in the gaps and make connections across long stretches of text, sometimes even finding this immersive. How is this done? In the last few decades, event-indexing situation modeling and complementary accounts of narrative emotion have suggested answers. Despite this progress, comparisons between real-life perception and narrative experience might underplay the way narrative processing modifies our world model, as well as the role of the emotions that do not relate to characters. I reframe narrative experience in predictive processing and neural networks, capturing continuity between fiction, perception, and states like dreaming and imagination, enabled by the flexible instantiation of concepts. In this framework, narrative experience is more clearly revealed as a creative experience that can share some of the phenomenology of dreams.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)560-583
Number of pages24
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Volume32
Issue number4
Early online date18 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 May 2019

Keywords

  • stories
  • narrative
  • situation model
  • event indexing
  • neural network
  • predictive processing

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