Brain Network Reconfiguration for Narrative and Argumentative Thought


Communications Biology


March, 2021


Yangwen Xu, Lorenzo Vignali, Olivier Collignon, Davide Crepaldi and Roberto Bottini

Our brain constructs reality through narrative and argumentative thought. Some hypotheses argue that these two modes of cognitive functioning are irreducible, reflecting distinct mental operations underlain by separate neural bases; Others ascribe both to a unitary neural system dedicated to long-timescale information. We addressed this question by employing inter-subject measures to investigate the stimulus-induced neural responses when participants were listening to narrative and argumentative texts during fMRI. We found that following both kinds of texts enhanced functional couplings within the frontoparietal control system. However, while a narrative specifically implicated the default mode system, an argument specifically induced synchronization between the intraparietal sulcus in the frontoparietal control system and multiple perisylvian areas in the language system. Our findings reconcile the two hypotheses by revealing commonalities and differences between the narrative and the argumentative brain networks, showing how diverse mental activities arise from the segregation and integration of the existing brain systems.