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The “Book Problem” and its neural correlates

Turner, Phil


Phil Turner


Presence research can tell us why we feel present in the real world and can experience presence while using virtual reality technology (and movies and games) but has strikingly less to say on why we feel present in the scenes described in a book. Just how is it that the wonderful tangible detail of the real world or the complexity of digital technology can be matched and even surpassed by a story in a paperback book? This paper identifies a range of potential neurological solutions to this problem (and the “real world” and “dream” problems for good measure). We consider Jeannerod’s neural simulation of action, Grush’s emulation theory of representation and Rizzolatti’s work on mirror neurons as being candidate solutions to the “book problem”. We conclude by observing that these potential solutions further underline the “purpose” of presence is to act in the world whether it is real, virtual or solely in our imaginations


Turner, P. (2013). The “Book Problem” and its neural correlates. AI & society,

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2013-08
Deposit Date Nov 1, 2013
Print ISSN 0951-5666
Electronic ISSN 1435-5655
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Book problem; narrative; mirror neurons;
Public URL
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