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Shakespeare was a neuroscientist?


Neurolinguist Philip Davis is studying the effects of Shakespeare on the brain. Big Think has more info:

In all of his plays, sonnets and narrative poems, Shakespeare used 17,677 words. Of these, he invented approximately 1,700, or nearly 10 percent. Shakespeare did this by changing the part of speech of words, adding prefixes and suffixes, connecting words together, borrowing from a foreign language, or by simply inventing them, the way a rapper like Snoop Dogg has today. […]

[Davis] is studying what he calls “functional shifts” that demonstrate how Shakespeare’s creative mistakes “shift mental pathways and open possibilities” for what the brain can do. It is Shakespeare’s inventions–particularly his deliberate syntactic errors like changing the part of speech of a word–that excite us, rather than confuse us.

This kind of creative language, Davis suggests, not only wows the reader but also stimulates the brain and helps “to keep it alive.” Hear that, writers? Don’t be afraid to stretch your style—your readers’ brains will thank you.

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