July 10, 2011

On smelling almonds & drinking sweat.

Many words evoke in us a rich web of associations. Depending on your personal experience, the word "almond" may conjure memories of the sight of blossoms waving in the wind, the smell of cake fresh from your grandmother's oven, or the childhood joy of your favorite candy bar.

But this only happens when the word is in your native language, or at least a language in which you are fluent. For example, when you discuss the role of the amygdala in assigning salience to various sensory stimuli, even if you know that amygdala means almond, you just don't get all those associations linked to "almond". Because "amygdala" is a neuroanatomical term, that does not link to your grandmother's cake...

And that is how Pocari Sweat can be a best-selling beverage in Japan.

Although, once you watch this TV ad from the 1980's, the words "Pocari Sweat" may forever conjure up images of an oddly-clad Cindy Crawford wielding a sword:

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