Remembering rhythm and rhyme: memorability of narratives for science communication

Negrete, Aquiles

Once upon a time, narratives were considered to be a non-reliable way of representing and communicating science. Nowadays, narratives are widely accepted as an accurate way of conveying science; they represent an effective emotional trigger, a lasting memory structure and a powerful aid for learning. To study how memorable different ways of presenting information can be is a fundamental task for science communication in order to evaluate materials that not only need to be understood by the general public but also need to be retained in the long term as a part of the communication process. In this paper, I will give a brief introduction to cognitive psychology and the study of memory in relation to narratives.

Evidence from the field of memory studies suggests that narratives represent a good recall device. They can generate emotion, and this in turn is a way of focusing attention, promoting rehearsal in memory and inducing long-term potentiation. Similarly, a story produces semantic links that might assist in storing and retrieving information from memory. Studies suggest that memory span and paired-associate recall have implications in storing and recalling narratives. Evidence also suggests that the use of stories as modelling tools can organise information, provide schemas and allow extrapolation or prediction. Finally, literature in memory suggests that narratives have value as mnemonic devices.

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Negrete, Aquiles: Remembering rhythm and rhyme: memorability of narratives for science communication. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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