Chapter 3. Neurolinguistic view into narrative processing

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The chapter addresses the crucial question of what narrativity is all about from a neurolinguistic perspective. The argument outlined derives from a clinical investigation of patients with executive dysfunctions which have delayed abilities in planning actions, working memory, and cognitive flexibility. Linked with that, they often show a lack of coherence in the processing of narrative texts. In this respect, the neurolinguistic investigation of the patients’ comprehension and production of core propositions and inferences in narratives allows for insights in the cognitive prerequisites of narrativity. The results provide strong evidence that the communicative impairments reflect a specific deficit in verbal planning at the interface between linguistic and cognitive processing. This supports the claim that sequentiality, which is considered to be the core principle in many linguistic definitions of narrativity, is clearly not a sufficient criterion to characterize the basic principles of narrativity. Instead, it has been shown that it is the ability of perspectivization and macro-structural planning that should be seen as one of the major neurolinguistic preconditions for processing coherent narrative structures.


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