Storytelling is a universal language—even if you can't speak it

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Ever heard the saying that music is a universal language? Storytelling may also be similar, even if stories are told in languages people don't understand.  .

New research from the USC Dornsife's Brain and Creativity Institute have found that, with the help of MRI technology, there is a possibility that reading stories to people encourages them to experience strong feelings of self-awareness and empathy, regardless of the origin of the person or the language(s) they know, according to a USC press release.  

“Even given these fundamental differences in language, which can be read in a different direction or contain a completely different alphabet altogether, there is something universal about what occurs in the brain at the point when we are processing narratives,” said Morteza Dehghani, assistant professor of psychology at USC Dornsife and the study’s lead author. 

The study, originally published in Human Brain Mapping, involved researchers translating 40 online stories into three different languages and having 90 different people, all native speakers of one of the three languages, while undergoing an MRI.  

Read the entire study for findings and additional information.