Related to the non-literal language post.


Here are some interesting things I should have put into my last post that have to do with language and non-literal language that I believe are useful. These are examples for getting an idea about how we transmit information to one another, and how anatomy is used in language.

*The first is a university news article on a study looking at brain regions activated when hearing metaphors. Hearing metaphors activates sensory brain regions.

It turns out that hearing metaphors activates sensory regions associated with the non-literal parts. A “rough” day activating the texture portion of the somatosensory (skin-sensory) system. If “something smells fishy” presumably I’m activating your olfactory regions. If I could “use a hand” sensory regions associated with the limb in question will presumably be activated.

*Then there’s the idea of “emotional contagion“. Despite the negative implication, this is a neutral term. Contagious yawning is a common example. Movement and/or sound (just hearing a yawn can do) triggers the same behavior in others.

The details are still getting argued. I thought this paper was useful for the general information in the introduction. “Auditory Contagious Yawning Is Highest Between Friends and Family Members: Support to the Emotional Bias Hypothesis“. I also thought they did good mentioning the various explanations and didn’t see an irrational weight placed on evo psych when it came to gender differences. I could easily be wrong though, I am very privileged here, and neurodiverse.

In Homo sapiens and some non-human primates contagious yawning is higher between strongly than weakly bonded individuals. Up to date, it is still unclear whether this social asymmetry underlies emotional contagion (a basic form of empathy preferentially involving familiar individuals) as predicted by the Emotional Bias Hypothesis (EBH) or is linked to a top-down, selective visual attention bias (with selective attention being preferentially directed toward familiar faces) as predicted by the Attentional Bias Hypothesis (ABH).

The summary is interesting. “The social bond significantly predicted the occurrence of auditory yawn contagion, which was highest between friends and family members. A gender bias was also observed, with women responding most frequently to others’ yawns and men being responded to most frequently by others. These results confirm that social bond is per se one of the main drivers of the differences in yawn contagion rates between individuals in support of the EBH of yawn contagion.”

I’ll add that it’s more complex than a “man/woman” dichotomy and that socially inspired difference in emotional contagion as it relates to anatomy and politics is worth thinking about in other dimensions that expand from sex and gender to other aspects of human nature. like use of disgust in homophobia and transphobia (and other phobias). The dick sucking insults that are common on the left and right count and I don’t assume that the transphobes I confront are necessarily on the political right (“right” as that’s used in the usa).

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