When new narratives meet old brains
We’re hard wired to turn our lives into stories how will we cope with the dizzying digital fictions of the future, ask John Bickle and Sean Keating
“We are our narratives” has become a popular slogan. “We” refers to our selves, in the full blooded person constituting sense. “Narratives” refers to the stories we tell about our selves and our exploits in settings as trivial as cocktail parties and as serious as intimate discussions with loved ones. We express some in speech. Others we tell silently to ourselves, in that constant little inner voice. The full collection of one’s internal and external narratives generates the self we are intimately acquainted with. Our narrative selves continually unfold.
State of the art neuro imaging and cognitive neuropsychology both free run 2 uphold the idea that we create our “selves” through narrative. Based on a half century’s research on “split brain” patients, neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga argues that the human brain’s left hemisphere is specialised for intelligent behaviour and hypothesis formation. It also possesses the unique capacity to interpret that is, narrate behaviours and emotional states initiated by either hemisphere. Not surprisingly, the left hemisphere is also the language hemisphere, with specialised cortical regions for producing, interpreting and understanding speech. free run 2 It is also the hemisphere that produces narratives.
Gazzaniga also thinks that this left hemisphere “interpreter” creates
the unified feeling of an autobiographical, personal, unique self. “The
interpreter sustains a running narrative of our actions, emotions,
thoughts, and dreams. The interpreter is the glue that keeps our story
unified, and creates our sense of being a coherent, rational agent. To
our bag of individual instincts it brings theories about our live free run 2 s.
These narratives of our past behaviour seep into our awareness and give
us an autobiography,” he writes. The language areas of the left
hemisphere are well placed to carry out these tasks. They draw onprefrontal cortices) and planning regions (orbitofrontal cortices). As
neurologist Jeffrey Saver has shown, damage to these regions disrupts
narration in a variety of ways, ranging from unbounded narration, in
which a pe free run 2 rson generates narratives unconstrained by reality, to
denarration, the inability to generate any narratives, external orHow does Gazzaniga’s interpreter produce a