An Essay on the Cognitive Benefits of Stories
Storytelling has been used as a form of communication since ancient times, beginning with chants to convey complex multi-layered stories. The first written record of a storytelling activity was found in an Egyptian papyrus called the Westcar papyrus, recorded sometime between 2000 and 1300 BCE, where King Khufu heard tales told by his sons about the wonders of other days and the doings of magicians. Other terms that are synonymous with storytelling include narratives, stories, histories, fables, epic, and folktales. Research in memory and learning has substantially improved our understanding of human information processing. It requires some cognitive effort to retrieve memories from long-term storage. Once those long-term memories are "active" in short-term memory, it also takes some ongoing effort to keep them active. The advantage of long-term memory is that we do not have to constantly rehearse information to keep it in storage. Story schema serve to facilitate both encoding and retrieval.