The Structure and Cognition of Visual Narrative
Neil Cohn (Tilburg University)
Just how is it that our brains understand the drawings and sequential images found in visual narratives like comics? Building on contemporary theories from cognitive science, I will present a provocative theory: that the structure and cognition of drawings and sequential images is similar to language. This talk will focus on the structural principles of the “narrative grammar” that underlies sequential image understanding. It will cover the basic principles of this structure, what cross-cultural research shows us about diverse visual languages of the world, and what cognitive neuroscience reveals about the processing of visual narratives. Altogether, this work explores emerging research from the linguistic and cognitive sciences that challenges conventional wisdom with a new paradigm of thinking about the connections between language and graphic communication.
Cohn, N. (2013a). The visual language of comics: Introduction to the structure and cognition of sequential images. London, UK: Bloomsbury.
Cohn, N. (2013b). Visual narrative structure. Cognitive Science, 37(3), 413-452. doi:10.1111/cogs.12016
Cohn, N. (2014). You’re a good structure, Charlie Brown: The distribution of narrative categories in comic strips. Cognitive Science, 38(7), 1317-1359. doi:10.1111/cogs.12116
Cohn, N. (2015). Narrative conjunction’s junction function: The interface of narrative grammar and semantics in sequential images. Journal of Pragmatics, 88, 105-132. doi:10.1016/j.pragma.2015.09.001
Cohn, N., Jackendoff, R., Holcomb, P. J., & Kuperberg, G. R. (2014). The grammar of visual narrative: Neural evidence for constituent structure in sequential image comprehension. Neuropsychologia, 64, 63-70. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2014.09.018
Cohn, N., & Kutas, M. (2015). Getting a cue before getting a clue: Event-related potentials to inference in visual narrative comprehension. Neuropsychologia, 77, 267-278. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2015.08.026
Cohn, N., & Maher, S. (2015). The notion of the motion: The neurocognition of motion lines in visual narratives. Brain Research, 1601, 73-84. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2015.01.018
Cohn, N., & Paczynski, M. (2013). Prediction, events, and the advantage of Agents: The processing of semantic roles in visual narrative. Cognitive Psychology, 67(3), 73-97. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2013.07.002
Cohn, N., Paczynski, M., Jackendoff, R., Holcomb, P. J., & Kuperberg, G. R. (2012). (Pea)nuts and bolts of visual narrative: Structure and meaning in sequential image comprehension. Cognitive Psychology, 65(1), 1-38. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2012.01.003
Visual Language Lab • The website of Neil Cohn
Visual language Lab: Researching the structure and cognition of the visual language of comics