Full-flavored Concepts: How feelings help us make sense of words

What do you feel when you think about the word coffee? Love it or hate it, you have feelings for coffee that inform how you think about it. It turns out that these feelings can also help us understand how the brain represents words.

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The body language of words: Fonts as a form of communication

| What happens when we dress a word up in different fonts? | Why does it feel like a word has a different personality or character based on the way it looks? Is it really possible that the variations in lines and curves which differentiate fonts can cause the same word to invoke different emotions, […]

The sense of meaning: Words and the cognitive emergence of symbolic language

| The perception, association, and conception of words as language | We are so familiar with words that we don’t really think about them. Yet they are much more than they appear to be on the surface. Their depths may even reveal to us the inner workings of our own minds. We are constantly processing […]

Emergent language: Words as sounds, references, and concepts

Words are integral to language, and language is integral to the human experience. Words help us to think and communicate about information more effectively than we could without them. Yet we don’t often stop and consider the nature of words themselves or how it is that they can provide such amazing utility. An individual’s initial […]

Jon Hamilton (NPR) | Without language, large numbers don’t add up

A study of people in Nicaragua has concluded that humans need language in order to understand large numbers… “It confirms that the kinds of problems in perceiving numerical quantities that we found in the Amazonian tribes is not due to just the cultural or environmental circumstances,” says Peter Gordon of Columbia University… “What’s exciting about […]

Eve Ensler (NPR) | The power and mystery of naming things

I believe in the power and mystery of naming things. Language has the capacity to transform our cells, rearrange our learned patterns of behavior and redirect our thinking. I believe in naming what’s right in front of us because that is often what is most invisible.   The public utterance of a banished word… was […]