“Toward Narrative Disruptors and Inductors: Mapping the Narrative Comprehension Network and its Persuasive Effects”, DARPA

In 2012, the CSC was awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) a $6.1 million dollar research grant to study the neurobiology of narrative comprehension, validate narrative theories and explore the connection between narrative and persuasion.  This groundbreaking research study will employ multi-modal neuroimaging, combining the temporal resolution of EEG with the spatial resolution of fMRI.  The project seeks to validate narrative theories that to date have rested on interpretive approaches, rather than empirical, neurophysiological study.  In so doing, the project aims to discover the neural network(s) involved in narrative comprehension and persuasion, and to come to a further understanding of how elements of existing narrative theories can induce or disrupt narrative understanding by the presence or absence of those structural components of narrative.


“Identifying and Countering Islamist Extremist Narratives”, Office of Naval Research

In 2009, the CSC was awarded by the Office of Naval Research a $4.3 million dollar research grant to study Islamist extremists and their modes of strategic communication.  The research project, entitled “Identifying and Countering Islamist Extremist Narratives”, begins with the foundation that the extremist groups use stories, and in particular at set of historical and religious stories widely known throughout the Islamic world, to frame contemporary events and persuade audiences to adopt their extremist ideology.  As the United States pursues its foreign policy in the 21st century, both armed conflict and diplomatic engagement are centrally influenced by perceptions, attitudes and beliefs.

This project combines both social science and humanities approaches to more fully understand the means by which extremist groups leverage cultural narratives in support of their ideological agenda.  Furthermore, the project is developing an automated by which to detect stories embedded in longer messages and cluster these stories both thematically and geographically for further analysis.