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Journal Article

Fact vs fiction—how paratextual information shapes our reading processes

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Altmann, U., Bohrn, I. C., Lubrich, O., Menninghaus, W., & Jacobs, A. M. (2014). Fact vs fiction—how paratextual information shapes our reading processes. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(1), 22-29. doi:10.1093/scan/nss098.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-FE5D-2
Our life is full of stories: some of them depict real-life events and were reported, e.g. in the daily news or in autobiographies, whereas other stories, as often presented to us in movies and novels, are fictional. However, we have only little insights in the neurocognitive processes underlying the reading of factual as compared to fictional contents. We investigated the neurocognitive effects of reading short narratives, labeled to be either factual or fictional. Reading in a factual mode engaged an activation pattern suggesting an action-based reconstruction of the events depicted in a story. This process seems to be past-oriented and leads to shorter reaction times at the behavioral level. In contrast, the brain activation patterns corresponding to reading fiction seem to reflect a constructive simulation of what might have happened. This is in line with studies on imagination of possible past or future events.