Humans are hardwired for stories, according to science. Hearing a well told tale literally causes a cascade of brain and hormonal changes that ramp up feeling of excitement, empathy and psychological reward.

You might not know the details of the neuroscience involved, but you've almost certainly experienced its effects -- probably with a box of popcorn in your lap enjoying a fun Pixar classic like Finding Nemo, Inside Out or Wall-E, for instance.

Movie studios like Pixar are among the world's best storytellers. But the ability to bring other people along on a mental journey, igniting understanding and winning their attention is a skill that pretty much any professional can use. And handily, now everyday people can learn a thing or two about how to captivate an audience with a great story from Pixar. Better yet, the classes are offered totally free online.

Pixar in a Box

Thanks to a partnership with online learning site Khan Academy, anyone with an interest in improving their storytelling skills and an internet connection can learn the basics of the craft from the experts.

The initiative is called Pixar in a Box, and previous seasons examined more film-specific technical skills like visual effects and animation techniques. The latest course, however, is aimed at anyone who simply wants to know how Pixar come up with so many great stories and covers topics like engaging an audience's emotions and crafting compelling characters.

The first module "We Are All Storytellers" is up now, with further sections on character and structure coming soon. Interested in learning more? Check out the quick teaser below or the course itself on the Khan Academy site.

Published on: Mar 13, 2017