The neuropsychology of narrative: Story comprehension, story production and their interrelation

Neuropsychologia, vol. 42, issue 10 (2004) pp. 1414-1434

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Stories are used extensively for human communication; both the comprehension and production of oral and written narratives constitute a fundamental part of our experience. While study of this topic has largely been the domain of cognitive psychology, neuroscience has also made progress in uncovering the processes underlying these abilities. In an attempt to synthesize work from both literatures, this review: (1) summarizes the current neuroimaging and patient research pertaining to narrative comprehension and production, (2) attempts to integrate this information with the processes described by the discourse models of cognitive psychology, and (3) uses this information to examine the possible interrelation between comprehension and production. Story comprehension appears to entail a network of frontal, temporal and cingulate areas that support working-memory and theory-of-mind processes. The specific functions associated with these areas are congruent with the processes proposed by cognitive models of comprehension. Moreover, these same areas appear necessary for story production, and the causal-temporal ordering of selected information may partially account for this common ground. A basic description of comprehension and production based solely on neuropsychological evidence is presented to complement current cognitive models, and a number of avenues for future research are suggested. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Brain damage
  • Discourse processing
  • Frontal lobes
  • Language
  • Neuroimaging
  • Review

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  • Raymond A. Mar

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