The Storytelling Brain: How Neuroscience Stories Help Bridge the Gap between Research and Society

J Neurosci. 2019 Oct 16;39(42):8285-8290. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1180-19.2019.


Active communication between researchers and society is necessary for the scientific community's involvement in developing science-based policies. This need is recognized by governmental and funding agencies that compel scientists to increase their public engagement and disseminate research findings in an accessible fashion. Storytelling techniques can help convey science by engaging people's imagination and emotions. Yet, many researchers are uncertain about how to approach scientific storytelling, or feel they lack the tools to undertake it. Here we explore some of the techniques intrinsic to crafting scientific narratives, as well as the reasons why scientific storytelling may be an optimal way of communicating research to nonspecialists. We also point out current communication gaps between science and society, particularly in the context of neurodiverse audiences and those that include neurological and psychiatric patients. Present shortcomings may turn into areas of synergy with the potential to link neuroscience education, research, and advocacy.

Keywords: broader impact; science communication; science outreach; science reporting; scientific journalism; storytelling.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication*
  • Humans
  • Information Dissemination*
  • Journalism, Medical*
  • Neurosciences*