Why Our Brains Love Story - A Naturalistic and Scientific Perspective on Storytelling

Why Our Brains Love Story - A Naturalistic and Scientific Perspective on Storytelling

Why our brains love story: a two-part series to better understand a naturalistic and scientific perspective on storytelling.

People tend to believe that watching their favorite television series is a way to escape, ‘zone out,’ and relax, but is there more going on in the brain? An ongoing collaboration between the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (CNLM) and the ClaireTrevor School of the Arts (CTSA) is exploring why we love to sit down with a good book or movie.

Part one of the series is entitled Scientific Story Shaping. This first of its kind experimental workshop will bring together a successful Hollywood Producer, a Hollywood story consultant, a neuroscientist, a drama instructor and an audience to brainstorm the first ever Neuroscientifically designed one act play!

Expert Panelists:

Adam Leipzig, CEO of Entertainment Media Partners

Lisa Cron, author, Wired for Story, Hollywood Story Consultant

Dr. Michael Yassa, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior and Director of the Center of the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.

David Ihrig author, The Actor’s Machine, drama instructor


Biographies of the Panelists

Executive Producer: Adam Leipzig

Adam Leipzig is the CEO of Entertainment Media Partners, an American film and theatre producer, film executive and author. As a former Disney Executive, he supervised such films as Dead Poets Society (1989) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). He went on to produce such films as Titus (1999) and The Way Back (2010). While president of National Geographic Films, he acquired the international rights to March of the Penguins and created the US version. He is the author of two books on filmmaking, both published by imprints of Macmillan, and the publisher of the online arts magazine Cultural Weekly. He is a Faculty member at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, and the Senior Creative Advisor for CreativeFuture. Adam has been a visionary and leader in the entertainment industry for over 30 years.

Story Consultant: Lisa Cron

Lisa Cron is a story analyst, speaker, and UCLA Extension Writers' Program instructor. She has written two books that utilize brain science in story creation; Wired for Story & Story Genius. Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency. Since 2006, Lisa has been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts MFA program in visual narrative in New York City. Lisa works with writers, nonprofits, educators and organizations, helping them master the unparalleled power of story, so they can move people to action – whether that action is turning the pages of a compelling novel, or taking to the streets to change the world for the better. Or both!

Neuroscientist: Michael Yassa, Ph.D.

Michael is a neuroscientist and director of the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. His work has focuses on how memories are formed, stored and retrieved, as well as how memories are altered and reconstructed throughout the course of our lives. Yassa has developed collaborative themes across the campus with CTSA as well as with the Humanities. An example is a recent symposium he co-hosted on ‘Memory and Meaning’ which allowed scholars from over a dozen departments in humanities, arts, sciences, medicine, business, and law to share and discuss their views on how humans, individually and collectively, form and retrieve memories, remember themselves and their communities, tell stories about their past, and imagine their future.

Moderator: David Ihrig

David is an Adjunct Professor of Drama at UCI who teaches the first systematic approach to acting using principles from the cognitive, psychological and neurobiological disciplines. David is an actor, a teacher, and an acting coach. He designed UCI’s first interdisciplinary course on the ‘Science of Acting’ and is developing innovative concepts for ‘The Actor’s Laboratory’ to better bridge the art of acting with the science of the brain. His approach is a fresh look at the oldest challenge in realistic acting and directly addresses the question, "How do we live truthfully in imaginary circumstances," by using models created by contemporary behavioral and brain sciences.

Event Details

  • When: Tuesday, November 13, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: Herklotz Conference Center at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (300 QRL, Building 506 on Campus Map)
  • Organizer: David Ihrig (email)
Register / RSVP