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The effect of storytelling on brain and mind health; What do we need to know?

Study guide

Storytelling is one of the oldest human skills, a skill that has long been a tradition in human societies. Yoval Noah Harari, historian and author of the famous book The Wise Man, believes that storytelling played a key role in the formation of human civilizations. However, storytelling does not have a purely educational and inspiring role. Medical research has shown the benefits and effects of storytelling on brain health. In this article we will talk about these benefits.

What is the role of story in our lives?

We deal with different stories every day. Stories that directly or indirectly affect our lives.

  • When we tell the story of our acquaintance with our spouse to our children or grandchildren, we are telling a story.
  • We are telling a story when we share the negative experience of buying from a website with a family member.
  • When we talk about everyday events with our partner, we are telling a story.
  • When we begin by saying, “This is the case,” we are telling a story.

This list is too long and will continue. The question is, what is the effect of storytelling on the health of our brains?

What is the effect of storytelling on brain health?

The effect of storytelling on the brain can be examined from different aspects. Some research has shown that storytelling has played a role in the development of the human brain and thus in increasing its survival. Other studies have shown that storytelling and storytelling ability have a positive effect on mental health and brain health. We will examine these benefits below.

1. Strengthen listening skills and increase imagination

By listening to the story, we become active. When we hear a story, all our senses notice it, and this power increases our concentration and listening.

On the other hand, listening to, reading or watching stories also strengthens our imagination. This imagination helps us to cope better with stressful life situations.

۲. Strengthen empathy and memory

When we tell stories or listen to stories, our brains release a hormone called oxytocin. This hormone, known as the love hormone, is one of the most important factors in strengthening our sense of empathy.

Storytelling is also good for strengthening our memory. “People remember the data and numbers intertwined in the story 22 times better than when we just give them a list,” says Jennifer Acker, a professor of marketing at Stanford University. “That’s why when we decide to buy, stories affect us more than the facts and features of the product.”

3. Increase positive emotions

According to a recent study in the field of positivist psychology, our storytelling style plays an important role in shaping the self-image or image we have of ourselves. Stories can change our mental state. This change of mood should not be ignored, because having a positive attitude helps us to get through difficulties more easily.

In one experiment, for example, storytelling sessions were held for children admitted to the intensive care unit. These sessions increased oxytocin secretion, decreased cortisol (a stress hormone), and improved tolerance to disease. So storytelling really has an effect on the health of our brains, and at the very least, it helps us get through the hardships with less pain and suffering.

4. Helping patients with dementia

Various studies have shown that attending patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s in storytelling and reminiscence sessions has been shown to reduce their symptoms. Today, group remembrance sessions are one of the treatments for this disease.

5. Better communication with others

Stories connect us to others. It is not just about empathizing with others, sometimes storytelling is a way to convey a message more effectively to others, for example an article recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience is a scientific article, but instead of using formal literature, it uses storytelling to convey its findings. The goal of the publishers was to better convey the message to the audience and get them more involved with the topic.

6. Change our attitude to success and failure

The stories we tell about our successes and failures have a real impact on how we view them. An examination of adults who were constantly achieving scientific success revealed that storytelling had a positive effect on their spontaneity. Narratives that tell the story of success affect a person’s self-esteem, motivation and effort.

On the other hand, the narrative style of the broken ones is also very effective. If the story of the fractures is told in a way that respects the efforts of people and does not humiliate them, it can have a positive effect on people’s attitudes when facing problems in the future.

The role of storytelling in the treatment of mental illness

As mentioned in the previous section, storytelling is involved in curing diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s, but this is not the only benefit of storytelling in treating brain-related diseases.

Narrative therapy means using the power of storytelling to treat mental illness. In this way, the psychotherapist tries to change the person’s view of the story of his life. The psychotherapist tries to extract new and more real narratives from the heart of events by challenging the narratives and beliefs that the person has created in his mind. These more realistic narratives help one to clear negative and erroneous thoughts and narratives and replace them with more appropriate models.

According to recent studies, people who have a more realistic view of past life difficulties have better mental health and emotional maturity.

How to make storytelling and reminiscing more effective?

Mother and child storytelling

Many people today do not know how to use the power of storytelling to convey what they have in mind when talking to others. In particular, social media and chatting have reduced the creativity of the mind and the brain’s ability to tell stories. In this section, we will share with you tips that will help you to reminisce and tell stories.

1. Be excited

If you want to tell a story to someone, your body language must express your excitement. You can not tell a story with a dry tone and faceless faces.

۲. smile

Storytelling is not always going to be serious. Many times the purpose of reminiscence is to entertain others. So do not forget to smile when telling the story.

3. Practice

Like any other work, storytelling requires practice. If you want to tell a story or an event in the form of a story, prepare yourself by defining the story.

4. Shorten the story

The story should not be too long, because the listeners are bored too. Make it as useful and useful as possible.

5. Pay attention to details

Pay attention to the details and use some of them to make your story more exciting. For example, point to a particular dress that someone was wearing or describe the facial expressions of the person whose story you are telling.

6. Do not ignore emotions

When defining a story, you do not need to constantly talk about the facts and what happened. Describe your feelings when experiencing the story and show them in your face and talk about them. Emotions are attractive.

7. Characterize

A good story can not be effective without proper characterization. Describe the characters in the story and, in addition to describing their appearance, talk about what they were thinking and what kind of personality they have.

8. Do not worry about the charm of the story

If your story does not sound interesting, do not worry. Many times it is not the story itself that is fascinating, but the narrative that makes it fascinating.


Storytelling is not just a social and cultural phenomenon, although it is the most important aspect of storytelling. Recent research has shown that this ancient phenomenon improves brain function, reduces the risk of developing brain diseases, and improves them. In addition, storytelling is used as a therapeutic method to change people’s attitudes toward life and their experiences.

With engaging storytelling, we not only enjoy all of these benefits, but also strengthen our bonds of friendship with others.

Warning! This article is for educational purposes only and you need to consult your doctor or specialist to use it. more information





The effect of storytelling on brain and mind health; What do we need to know?

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