Embodiement of Fiction

This project investigates the mechanisms by which consuming literary fiction improves our "Theory of Mind" (ToM) or mentalizing capabilities, a skill that is crucial for managing complex social relationships. Our key hypothesis is that specific linguistic features that characterize literary fiction have the ability to automatically provoke mental simulations in various brain structures - including those relevant for ToM. This mental “exercises” improve the respective cognitive functions. The aim of the present project is thus to uncover how different literary genres come to produce such mental simulations, why this aptitude could serve cognitive enhancement and how it can be optimally exploited for educational purposes.