Brains Love Strong Metaphors

Understanding brain science can make you a better writer.

I found this article about scientists studying the effect of fiction on the brain. Here’s a clip of something intriguing—and proof of that “avoid cliches” writing advice.

The way the brain handles metaphors has also received extensive study; some scientists have contended that figures of speech like “a rough day” are so familiar that they are treated simply as words and no more. Last month, however, a team of researchers from Emory University reported in Brain & Language that when subjects in their laboratory read a metaphor involving texture, the sensory cortex, responsible for perceiving texture through touch, became active. Metaphors like “The singer had a velvet voice” and “He had leathery hands” roused the sensory cortex, while phrases matched for meaning, like “The singer had a pleasing voice” and “He had strong hands,” did not.

Read the rest: Your Brain on Fiction