Neuro Humanities Studies

Arthur M. Jacobs, Roel M. Willems,

Caring About Dostoyevsky: The Untapped Potential of Studying Literature

Source: Trends in Cognitive Sciences
Year: 2016
Topics: Emotion; Empathy;
Disciplines: Literature;

Download size: 380.35 KB
Should cognitive scientists and neuroscientists care about Dostoyevsky? Engaging with fiction is a natural and rich behavior, providing a unique window onto the mind and brain, particularly for mental simulation, emotion, empathy, and immersion. With advances in analysis techniques, it is time that cognitive scientists and neuroscientists embrace literature and fiction. Literature has been rooted firmly in the territory of the humanities for centuries. Scholars from the humanities have studied the great works of literary writers, and it may seem unlikely that literature could be part of the academic lexicon of cognitive scientists. In the final part of this paper we argue against an often heard reason against the neurocognitive study of literature, namely that it is technically impossible. We begin by showcasing four subdisciplines of cognitive science for which the study of fiction is relevant and has provided interesting insights. Note that we use the terms ‘fiction’ and ‘literature’ loosely for ease of reading.


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