Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

June 12, 2014

Body blows — the force of metaphors

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frank Fiore @ 1:37 PM

Interestingly, sometimes just reading a tactile word is enough to provoke the corresponding bodily reaction. Writers often use metaphors to animate text and help readers understand abstract concepts.

In an interesting recent study conducted by Simon Lacey of Emory University and his colleagues they chose sentences that contained tactile metaphors–such as “She had a rough day”–and paired them with sentences with the same meaning but without the metaphors, such as “She had a bad day.” Participants lay in an fMRI scanner and listened to the various sentences. The researchers found that the brain regions that were activated when the participants heard sentences with texture metaphors were the same brain regions that are activated when people sense texture through touch.

However those same brain regions were not activated when participants heard comparable sentences that lacked metaphors. Thus the use of metaphors packs visceral power that can enhance the reading experience. For example the sentence, “He was terribly scared upon encountering the loud bear” is less powerful than a sentence like “His skin prickled and his hair went electric at the ear-splitting roar of the bear.”

 

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