Interactive English: Reception

Reading and Listening

Your Brain on Fiction

on May 1, 2012

In the next class we will be listening to and reading about a report called “Your Brain on Fiction”. Think about this title, look at the photos of brain scans above, then in the comments tell us what you think we might learn from the article. Also, these words will be important for the lesson: neuroscience, metaphor, cortex, sympathize.

Also, when you read pages 11-30 of The Curious Incident, please answer these questions in your journal and don’t forget to keep a list of characters!

1. How do we know the dog had been killed recently?

2. In Chapter 3, what do we find out about people with Asperger’s Syndrome?

3. Do you understand the joke on page 10?

4. The policeman says, “I will seriously lose my rag”. What do you think this idiom means?

5. Why are the chapters of this novel numbered 2, 3, 5, 7 etc?

6. How does Christopher seem to feel about being in jail?

7. Why does Christopher not like metaphors?

8. What do you think will happen in the next 20 pages? (make a prediction)


16 responses to “Your Brain on Fiction

  1. Satomi Togari says:

    *warning: weird grammer alert!*

    Hi, this is the reclusive UMA Satomi doing her homework rather early to avoid doing everything
    on the last day of the GW!

    I assume the brain scan photos show which section of the brain is
    active when doing each task, and indicates how active each
    part is by using colours from red (most active) to
    purple (least active).
    For example, the right part of the brain in the picture
    (=the back of the head)is the reading comprehensive area,
    and the middle part is the motor speech area which
    conducts speech. Both parts respectively correspond to the two activities,
    “Passively Viewing Words” and “Speaking Words”.

    I think listening to words and generating verbs makes our brains active the most out of the four activities, and I find it very surprising that while listening seems to be rather passive compared to speaking words, it actually makes our brains work harder!

    We may be able to find out why this happens in the article,
    and also more about the relationship between fiction and brain activity.

    p.s I hope writing this comment counts as a cerebral activity too,
    as my brain has been very lazy like its owner for the past few days…….

    Happy latter half of the GW!

    • tufsmatt says:

      Hi Satomi,

      I’m being reclusive too – I have spent the last 4 days working… Boring!
      Tomorrow I will go out with friends and enjoy my Golden Week!

      Thanks for the comment and I hope you enjoy reading The Curious Incident.
      See you next week!!

  2. Wataru Okubo says:

    Good morning!

    It seems that the photos show how brain performs in response to four different tasks: Reading, Listening, Speaking and Generating Verbs. These four pictures suggest that each task requires us to activate different parts of brain. As for fiction story, I think its influence to brain is huge. It arouses our emotions in various ways and the use of metaphor lets us imagine a lot of things, from peaceful scenery to intricate human relationships, in our minds and consequently I guess the brain works hard when we perceive it. So the article might tell us how reading/listening to fiction affects a brain, especially in terms of imaginary environments.

    By the way, I found it interesting that although they are all language-related tasks, we use different areas of brain depending on each task. I think this may be the reason why certain people innately have trouble reading (Dyslexia), and people sometimes lose a particular ability when they have their brain damaged. Also, as I read the article about a positive influence on decision making when using a foreign language posted on your twitter, I’m really curious to know if the brain functions change between the mother language and second one. I believe they work differently because, on a personal level, though, I feel a different process runs in my brain when using English and the process of using it also changes according to the progress of learning. (The more accustomed I become, the more natural the process becomes.)

    Looking forward to the next class.
    Yay for lazy holidays!!

  3. Kei Inamura says:


    I think these photos show how brain works when you are doing each task.
    It seems that the brain uses different part of it according to the tasks.The red parts are most active and purple parts least,black not active.
    I haven’t expected that when listening to the words the brain works harder than when speaking.Listening is a passive activity and Speaking is active one,so I thought the latter would need more brain power.

    We may find out in the article why this happens.

    Have good latter half of GW.

  4. Shogo Inoue says:

    Hi, this is Shogo

    Firstly when we look at the 4 small pictures of brain we could presume that, our brains function differently for different purpose. 4 of those categories are: Passively viewing words, Listening to words, speaking words, and generating verbs.
    Firstly when we say passively viewing words, it might mean that you are looking at the words but not actually reading it. Listening to words might include communication, radio; something that you listen to gain information. I don’t know what other two are.

    Also when you look at the title “Your Brain on Fiction” we could presume that these brain photos are taken when they are reading or listening to a fictional novel. As it says that “metaphor” is a important word in this article, metaphor might affect our brain function very much.

    From the photo we could also see that while we are doing “Listening to words” and “generating verbs” our brains are more active than the other two. We could tell this because the area that is highlighted in red is larger than the other two tasks.

    From the article we might learn, why “Listening to words” and “generating verbs” makes our brain more active than the other two tasks. Also how the fictional novel affects our brain.

    I hope the rain stops soon!

    Have a good golden week.

  5. Jiin Choi says:

    Good morning!

    In my opinion, this photo shows that we use different parts of our brains when performing different tasks. So to improve each part of our brains, we may need to do different activities. I hope I can learn what we should do to refine each part of our brains from the article.:)

    Oh, I’ve relaxed at home except yesterday during GW.(NOT STUDYING lol) I’m hesitating between hanging out with friends or studying hmmm….:/ Anyway enjoy the rest of GW and see you Tuesday.

  6. Takumi Nakanishi says:

    As the others say, each language-related task activates different parts of the brain.
    Come to think of it, the part of my brain which should function when listening to words is surely rotten, because my listening comprehension skills are hopelessly bad.
    Anyway, I don’ know what we will be able to learn from the article,
    but I hope the knowledge of human brains will help us to improve our English skills.

    By the way, I read “No Longer Human” by Dazai Osamu and “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka and I’ve developed “The Sickness Unto Death”.
    I wish I would be transformed into a big insect and killed by a thrown apple.

  7. Ayumi Sugaya says:

    Hi,this is Ayumi.
    In the article, we might lean the relationship between some tasks we do and activities of our brain.
    These four photos show the places in the brain we use to do each different tasks.
    Like most of you, I think the red zone is the most active area and the red area is different from each photos,whitch means where we usu most in our brain is totally different according to tasks we do.
    From these photos, we use our brain widely when we passively view words, on the other hand,we use ceter of our brain intensively when we listen to words.
    I want to know effective uses of our brain whitch is useful to avoid aging faster.

    How was your holidays? I can`t believe I have to wake up early for school tomorrow…but I am looking forward to meeting friends and talking about our holidays together.

    See you soon!

  8. Jay says:

    Oh wow, everybody’s writing long comments in this class…I’ll just go with being *ahem* concise.
    I guess the pictures indicate which part of your brain is active when you do a certain activity.
    The colors, I assume, shows which part is functioning more/less.

    Yikes, it’s already Tuesday. See y’all during 4th period.

  9. Masato Kurosawa says:

    Hi, I’m Masato.

    From the four photos of brain scans, we can say that different tasks make different parts working in our brain. And we can also say that we use larger parts of our brain when we are listening to words and generating verbs than when we are passively viewing words and speaking words.

    The result tells us that we should learn foreign languages by doing various kinds of tasks,
    because just reading something only affects a certain part of our brain, and, likewise, listening, writing and speaking also affect only their characteristic parts of our brain seperately.

    And we can also assume from the title, “Your Brain on Fiction,” reading fiction novels cause critical effects on our brain in a way we cannot get just by reading essays or so on, because when we read fictions, we can experience another world, which we cannot experience in our daily lives.

  10. Mina says:

    Hi,this is Mina.
    I think, in the article, how our brains act when we read fictions will be explained.
    I guess our brains will be more active when we read fictions than when speaking or listening.

    I’ve just posted an comment but an error message appeared and all my comment vanished.
    So please excuse me for my short comment.

  11. Mayu says:

    Hi,this is Mayu.
    I guess we can learn which part of the brain works most active.
    I wanted to learn more about it,but I caught a heavy cold and cannot speak!So I’ll see you on next Tuesday!

    Hope you all enjoyed GW!

  12. shino yanagimura says:

    i think christopher is going to explain how the brain works and which part it uses in each situation. each part has its job

  13. Akira Nemoto says:

    Hi, this is Akira.
    First of all, I have to say I don’t know the first thing about science much less neuroscience.
    I’m into humanities.
    As the article is comparing the activity of brain in different linguistic situations, I guess we are going to learn how well brains work when communications take place.

  14. Kano Nagashima says:

    I think from this article , we will be learning about the brain and that we are usually using the different parts of the brain while doing different tasks. We might learn what particular parts in the brain we use when doing a particular thing .


  15. Mina says:

    Hi, this is Mina.
    I heard the story “What I did for love.” I heard only first of series of stories,but It was very interesting, especially the part where a woman who were dumped by her boyfriend writed his phone number on bathroom walls across the United States, and asked other women to call him that she missed him.
    The speed of talking was very fast, so I’m a little nervous about the acheaving test.

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