The rhythm of storytelling

The rhythm of storytelling

Have you ever tried to manipulate your brain waves to achieve a mental state that you desire? 

Brainwaves (also called neural oscillations) are patterns of neural activity, which can be detected using a technique called EEG. There are five types of brainwaves between a frequency of 1HZ to approximately 150HZ: From alpha, (which for example is associated with a mental state of being awake but relaxed), over delta, theta, beta to gamma.

Brain waves can change in response to stimulus in the environment, such as a pulsing sound or a light. The so-called brainwave entrainment can be understood as the synchronization of brain waves to these external stimuli. Good examples of applied brainwave entrainment include meditation and binaural beats, which are associated with deep relaxation and promoting creativity. However, brainwave entrainment also happens to us without even noticing, whenever we form memories: Research found that theta wave oscillations (around 4Hz) appear to be related to temporal structuring specifically. They might be associated with linking together the different bits of information that our brain perceives from all the different sensory inputs to just one single coherent memory.

The role of theta waves is however still controversial and more clarity is needed to understand the effects of them on memory in full detail. We believe that the temporal effect of theta should become the most apparent when we present full stories: The brain is then actively occupied to continuously piece together bits of information and linking them to specific scenes.

With our study, we aim to examine whether exposure to different brain waves during narrative processing improves temporal memory performance. Therefore, we aim to manipulate brain waves with different settings of brightness in two movies, that are narrated in chronological order and non-chronological order.

Research group 39

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