The flow of narrative in the mind unmoored : an account of narrative processing

Jajdelska, Elspeth (2019) The flow of narrative in the mind unmoored : an account of narrative processing. Philosophical Psychology, 32 (4). pp. 560-583. ISSN 0951-5089 (

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Verbal narratives provide incomplete information and can be very long, yet readers and hearers often effortlessly fill in the gaps and make connections across long stretches of text, sometimes even finding this immersive. How is this done? In the last few decades, event-indexing situation modeling and complementary accounts of narrative emotion have suggested answers. Despite this progress, comparisons between real-life perception and narrative experience might underplay the way narrative processing modifies our world model, as well as the role of the emotions that do not relate to characters. I reframe narrative experience in predictive processing and neural networks, capturing continuity between fiction, perception, and states like dreaming and imagination, enabled by the flexible instantiation of concepts. In this framework, narrative experience is more clearly revealed as a creative experience that can share some of the phenomenology of dreams.


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