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How our Brains FEEL Metaphors

Our language and literature are so full of metaphors that we rarely notice them--but our BRAIN does. For instance, when a character's personality is described as "rough" or "smooth," we can relate to what this means because we've felt surfaces like this in the past. It turns out that the parietal operculum, the part of the brain that senses texture through touch, is activated whenever we read or hear a sensual metaphor.

On the Psych Central website, Rick Nauert quotes researcher Krish Sathian as saying, "(Using fMRI macines), we see that metaphors are engaging the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in sensory responses even though the metaphors are quite familiar. This result illustrates how we draw upon sensory experiences to achieve understanding of metaphorical language."

Does this mean that blind people--who rely much more on touch, have MORE of this brain activation? And neurologists have found that injury to various areas of the brain can interfere with patients' understanding of metaphors--and therefore, of literature.

Nauert quotes Sathian's co-author Simon Lacy as saying, "Interestingly, visual cortical regions were not activated by textural metaphors, which fits with other evidence for the primacy of touch in texture perception."

But there's hope for retired football players (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). Nauert quotes Sathian as saying, "I don't think that there's only one area responsible for metaphor processing. Actually, several recent lines of research indicate that engagement with abstract concepts is distributed around the brain."

Contactee experiences are so hard to describe that people often resort to metaphors (NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to this show). In fact, subscribers can listen to a total of TWENTY-TWO interviews with contactees, all of whom tell Anne Strieber about the incredible things that happened to them IN THEIR OWN WORDS.



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