Describe feelings with taste metaphors

Describe feelings with taste metaphors

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Taste metaphors arouse more emotions when reading

Describing feelings in words is often difficult and the actual feelings or impressions can hardly be conveyed in many cases. The use of taste metaphors can possibly help here, because they obviously affect readers emotionally more strongly than non-pictorial idioms, according to the results of a recent study by scientists from Freie Universität (FU) Berlin and Princeton University.

The study authors Francesca Citron and Adele Goldberg report in the journal "Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience" (JoCN) that in their studies the test subjects showed a significantly more pronounced response in the brain when reading taste metaphors than when reading the literal paraphrases. The neuroscientist Dr. Francesca Citron and the linguist Prof. Dr. According to the FU Berlin, Adele Goldberg used imaging techniques to examine for the first time in their study "how figurative language is processed in connection with taste."

"Sweet compliments" versus "Nice compliments"
As part of their study, the scientists presented a total of “37 simple metaphorical sentences and their non-figurative counterparts” to the 26 participants. For example, they could read the sentences "You got a sweet compliment." Or "You got a nice compliment." These differed only in one word and they were "adjusted in terms of length, custom, pictorial, emotional valence and emotional arousal," reports the Free University of Berlin. While the test subjects read the sentences, the researchers measured their brain activity. Subsequently, the different words were presented to the study participants again in isolation to ensure that the brain regions responsible for taste were also active for taste words.

Increased brain activity in taste metaphors
The researchers found that "when reading metaphorical phrases silently, not only were brain regions that are related to taste activated", but "there was also increased activity in regions in which emotions are processed." The amygdala and the front part of the hippocampus were activated more by the metaphorical sentences, write Goldberg and Citron in the "JoNC". Despite the same content, the sentences without corresponding metaphors did not produce comparable excitement patterns in the subjects' brains. "Metaphors may be more emotionally effective because they also evoke physical experiences," said Francesca Citron. This could even apply to conventional metaphors such as "sweet" for "nice" or "hot" for "sexy". Further studies should clarify this and the researchers also want to investigate in a next step "how these metaphors are processed by speakers who have learned the language examined as a foreign language," reports the Free University of Berlin. (fp)

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