Tasteful Language

In a study by Francesca Citron of Freie Universität Berlin and Adele Goldberg of Princeton University investigated metaphorical concepts related to taste recruited brain regions. They used 37 simple metaphorical sentences and their literal counterparts, which differed by only a single word – such as “The break-up was bitter for him” versus “The break-up was bad for him.” The researchers recorded participants’ brain activity as they silently read these sentences.

They found that the taste metaphors engaged not only taste-related areas of the brain but also emotion-related areas more than did the literal sentences. Apparently, words taste!

From Heidelberg November 2007
In an interview by The Cognitive Neuroscience, Citron reveals that she thinks that the implication of their results is that it can pay off to use figurative language in order to communicate more effectively. However, as a listener, one should be aware of that you could be overly influenced by metaphorical language.

For a Swede, the name Citron certainly evoke taste-related areas in the brain, since that is what we call a lemon. Some years ago, I found out that there are actually sweet lemons. So much better when confronted with the saying "When live gives you lemons, make lemonade" which incidentally was the title of the 2014 TedX Göteborg event

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