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Exploding neuron-like structure against a black background

Narrative and Cognition Lab

What do you see in your imagination when you read a novel or hear a story? How much is a narrative world from a book or a movie entering your everyday life? What is your relationship with fictional characters? How narrative are your dreams, desires, or fears? Do you feel residual traces of stories and characters in your everyday perception of the world? How narrative is your way of thinking or feeling about the world, about others and about yourself? What do you bring from your life to a fictional story-world? What kind of narrative technologies do you use, and why? 

Narrative and cognition are deeply entwined. Narrative artefacts – from novels to movies to arts and new media technologies – are eliciting, training, challenging, impacting our imagination, our memories, our sense of places, of others, of our self.  Cognition, on the other hand, is not only explored by narrative media but also inherently textured by narrative properties: from the way we perceive people as having or being ‘characters’, to how we detect plots and causal patterns in everyday events, experience layers of narration and storyworlds in our mind, or reshape our life and self in narrative storytelling. And yet, despite this natural convergence, the exchange between narrative scholars and mind scientists is still significantly hampered by methodological barriers and lack of mutual collaborations.  

Led by Marco Bernini, the Narrative and Cognition Lab will bring together scholars from narrative theory, cognitive scientists (philosophers of mind, neuroscientists, psychologists, phenomenologists, neurobiologists), and creative artists to create a methodological catalyst for exploring narrative, cognition, and narrative cognition.  

The Lab will host a team of international collaborators and visiting scholars, short-term fellowships, seminar series, workshops, and resident artists, as well as a partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Through the creation of a hybrid (online and in-person) collaborative vessel, it will chart, navigate, record and reflect on interdisciplinary encounters, methodological exchanges of theories and experiments targeting a spectrum of common, fringe, or hidden experiences such exploring how immersive and imaginative experiences relate to intractable states such as dreaming or fantasy, or investigating the boundary between imagination and reality – a critical, self-shaping, and dynamic space in human cognition, but a poorly understood aspect of our mental life and health.  

If you are interested in the work of the Lab, please contact Marco Bernini.