Publication details [#915]

Kendall-Taylor, Nathaniel, Michael Erard and Abigail Haydon. 2013. The Use of Metaphor as a Science Communication Tool: Air Traffic Control for Your Brain. Journal of Applied Communication Research 41 (4) : 412–433. 22 pp.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
Taylor & Francis Ltd


This investigation explores the role of cultural models and metaphor in the practice of science communication and translation. Using qualitative interviews, group sessions and quantitative framing experiments, the study designed and tested the effectiveness of a set of explanatory metaphors in translating the science of executive function (a multi-dimensional set of related abilities that included working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility, according to developmental and cognitive science). The results of the experiment show that the “brain's air traffic control system” metaphor is the most effective for this purpose, and proposes both a specific tool that can be used in efforts to translate the science of executive function and a theory and methodology that can be employed to design and test metaphors as communication devices on other science and social issues.