http://ianhocking.com/?p=408 I’ve seen several blogs on this subject lately, and I’m still trying to decide if this is a rehash of the older “Reading Shakespeare makes you smart” argument or if it’s entirely new research. I’m linking this one because it seems to state the problem most clearly. Here’s an example from Shakespeare’s Hamlet (at least, I think it is; this is how I interpret it):
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
The word ‘crook’ would be heard as a noun but later information forces a verb interpretation. It draws the listener towards the sentence. Its metaphor burns brightly. Philip Davis, Guillaume Thierry and Neil Roberts are investigating how the brain responds to these functional shifts.